Inside Football with Chris Felton (Wk6)

Look for Chris Felton’s weekly columns over the course of the football season. Felton, who is providing color on WNPV 1440 AM’s high school football broadcasts, boasts 10 years of coaching experience at the high school level and two years at the collegiate level. Felton spent eight years coaching at Central Bucks West and one year each at Pennridge and Central Bucks East. He also had coaching stints at Delaware Valley College and Gettysburg College. In his weekly column, Felton will not only be sharing his insights into the game itself but also attempting to familiarize fans with the game.

Thanks to television, we are trained to watch a football game in a specific fashion.  Think about it. Try this little exercise in your mind.  Close your eyes (after your read this) and visualize a typical football play being run.  Okay, do it now.

Now what did you see?  No doubt most of you visualized the quarterback center exchange, then either:

A. A pass with the ball in the quarterback's hands and then a throw to a receiver


B.  A handoff to the running back

But in your made-up play, what was the offensive line doing? What was the offensive formation?  How did the defense adjust?  What kind of stunt did the defensive line run?  What was the depth of the safety?  Did the corners have inside or outside alignment?

The point being, we are trained in our mind to only focus on the ball, but there is so much to watch besides the ball.

As fans watching a game on TV, we may not have much of a choice, but if you attend a game in person, turn your attention away from the ball, and you will see a different game.

So the next time you attend a game in the SOL watch for these players:

#66 Bill Labadie (Left Guard/Defensive Tackle) from Bensalem is the best player in the SOL National no one is talking about.  He’s got great size and athletic ability.  Lock for first team all-league.

#10 Myles Grasty – Abington (Linebacker) He’s a stud.  Absolute stud.  I love this kid!!! Young linebackers- watch this guy’s motor.  You don’t even have to watch him play, you can hear him play.  Every time he hits someone – an echo can be heard through the bleachers.

#74 James Worthington – Pennridge (Center/Strong Tackle) Though injured at the beginning of the season, he came back and is leading the Pennridge’s offense up front. He mauls the opponent on every play. Worthington's teammates have commented how important his leadership and experience have been for the resurgence of the Pennridge offense.

#50 Justin Rowley- CB West (OL/DL) According to one of his coaches, “Justin has a motor that makes coaching him easy.  It also makes him a threat for making big plays.”  On the Defensive Line Rowley is no stranger to big plays. To date, he has eight tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.  According to another coach, “Justin works very hard in the weight room and every day at practice.  It has paid dividends for him (and the team) on game days.”  It has particularly paid dividends for his quarterback.  Through week six, this two-time Trenchman award winner (weekly award to CB West’s best offensive lineman) has not given up a sack.

Do you want to see great downfield blocking? Go Watch Josh Cook, Joe Potkovic, and the rest of the North Penn offensive line.

Speaking of North Penn, #7 Shane Watson (DE/TE) is a dominating force at tight end and defensive end.  Overshadowed by some other names --If he is not doubled at the point of attack, it is a losing play for opposing offenses.

# 6 Seth Ehlo of CB West (WR/DB) is the go-to man for CB West’s passing game.  He singlehandedly puts the West offense on his back. Not too much of a surprise here, but next time observe the many things defenses try to do to Ehlo. Teams have put their best guy on Seth, double covered him and even adjusted their zone coverage to defend against him.

#50 Matt Schuck of Hatboro-Horsham is a standout player. He is a senior defensive lineman who works very hard on the trenches.  Thus far, he has 17 tackles, seven of them tackles for losses, three sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recovers.

Go watch Wissahickon play and see what happens when opposing defenses overreact to Anthony Dellegal (Mr. Lightning). The Trojans will come back with Mr. Thunder - fullback Ricky O’DonnellO'Donnell is a terrific inside rushing threat, and defenders cannot bring him down with arm tackles.  He is critical for the Wissahickon wing-t offense.  Tough kid who will resiliently converts third and short situations.

Souderton TE,  Ry Yozallinas is a high motor player who does an equally good job blocking as he does catching the football.  The tight end position in the wing-t offense is important because they need to do a great job down blocking defensive tackles and/or fast linebackers.

Quakertown Tight End/Linebacker Nick Nagele- #89- leads a tough defense. He is a team leader. Speaking with another coach in the league, Nick is one of the toughest kids on a very good defense. He has sacks, forced fumbles, tackles and even a 55-yard kickoff return for a touchdown- wow!!!

CB East- Vince Careghini #8 has 21 catches, averaging 16 yards per catch with two touchdowns.  Watch how hard he runs his patterns even when he isn't getting the football.

As fans, we should watch more than just the ball, and as for coaches, they must!!!

Today's high school football staffs on average have ten or more coaches.  Normally, the head coach and a coordinator share the duties of calling the offense or defense.  That leaves on average eight or more coaches that have specific jobs to do.

Head coaches and coordinators must organize their staffs on game day so that they can provide the play callers important information that will maximize the productivity of both the offense and defense.

Information that assistant coaches provide falls on a spectrum.  The staff must be organized so they can avoid the two extreme ends.  The amount of information must fall somewhere in between providing nothing or not enough information and the other extreme which would be too much information that cannot be processed.  Information overload has the same result as not getting enough information.

First and foremost, the game is too short, and each possession on both sides of the ball is extremely important.  Adjustments must be made immediately - no team can wait until halftime to fix a problem or to take advantage of an opponent.  For example, if your defense is not adjusting a to a problem formation- fix it now!!!  On the other side, if your offense is gashing an opponent who isn’t adjusting-continue to take advantage of the situation.

Defensively, most coordinators want to know the following information before the snap: down and distance, player personnel, and tendency.  From there, the defense is called and everybody must know the call.

After the snap they want to know offensive play called, defensive breakdown, etc. All of this is charted and position coaches watch the positions.

Offensively, pre-snap defensive down and distance tendencies and substitutions.  The play is called and many coaches package their plays with complementary plays.

The staff should be split.  Half of the staff should be watching their positions while the other half should be noting and communicating defensive adjustments and reactions.

The coaches need to know how the defense adjusted to formations, motions, trades, unbalanced, and other formations like trips.

Some coaches on the staff must be assigned to keying the following positions: playside de, playside outside linebacker, backside de and outside linebackers, and the secondary.

Every play should be grouped with other plays that use the same backfield action but can be used to take advantage of the reactions of the other defenders.

For example, if the head coach calls an inside play and a coach on the box notes that the backside defensive end was crashing down to make the play, then later a bootleg could be called.

There are many scenarios that could be outlined in this article.

If you are interested in obtaining other ideas on using the coaches on the box more efficiently, feel free to email me at:

Until next time, good week and good football!