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THE GAME PLAN: Vars football shifts to double-wing attack

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Originally published on October 8, 2015

Junior wing-back Jefferson Rubio runs the ball down the field while dodging the defense during practice. Photo by Leonard Caoili

Sounds of coaches yelling and referee whistles blowing pierce the air. A single shopping cart filled with a bucket of water rolls its way to the field providing fuel to the players during the game. A stream of football players marches from the locker-room to the football field. This year the varsity football team is jumping into the season with a new lineup and new offensive strategy.

“However, jumping straight into the varsity football team has given me first-hand experience on mental toughness, communication and brotherhood with my teammates.”

Out of thirty players total, the new roster features nine players moving up from the JV team and three new players joining for the first time. Among them are Mace Gouldsby, Victor Martinez and Ethan Zhang, all of whom are juniors. It is rare to have first-year football players join the varsity team as juniors or seniors, according to head coach Danny Chan.

Despite these players skipping JV football, practicing with veteran players has pressured them to reach the varsity level quicker. “I am new to the concept of being a part of a team game,” offensive and defensive lineman Martinez said. “However, jumping straight into the varsity football team has given me first-hand experience on mental toughness, communication and brotherhood with my teammates.”

Playing in scrimmages has provided the younger team with more experience and opportunities to increase their team chemistry. “After playing in these pre-season games, I have a better understanding of my role when I’m on the field,” junior wing-back and defensive end Ethan Zhang said.

The team practices the new formation under head coach Danny Chan’s supervision. Photo by Leonard Caoili

The veteran players on the team have also been helpful in giving advice and leading drills to the newer players. “When we run drills or plays, we tell the new players what to do,” senior captain Patrick Roonan said. “If they do it wrong, we tell them how to fix it and hopefully they get it right the second time.”

The team’s drastic change to its roster and the size of the players has led the coaching staff to change its offensive strategy from a shotgun offense to a double-wing offense, an offense they used years ago.

“After playing in these pre-season games, I have a better understanding of my role when I’m on the field.”

The shotgun offense focuses on players having to pass the ball. When the play starts, the quarterback can decide to pass the ball to a wide receiver or choose to scramble and run the ball up the field himself. However, this offense requires the players to be able to execute blocks to get the pass through. It can easily be countered if the defense focuses on intercepting passes.

On the other hand, the double-wing offense is not as restricted to a set formation as the shotgun offense is. Players are placed more freely along the line of scrimmage. When the play starts, players execute double teams and blocks on the defense, allowing for the quarterback to run the ball and pass with ease. With a size disadvantage, the Cardinals run the ball when the play starts instead of passing.

Senior Jeffy Yao leads team stretches. Photo by Leonard Caoili

The Cardinals ran this double wing offense on Aug. 29 during the game against Terra Linda, which they lost 48–6. “Against Terra Linda, it did not work so well,” Chan said. “We still need more time in the system so our players will be used to it. We need fine tuning.”

Even though they lost, the scrimmages proved to be vital in helping the team pinpoint weaknesses. According to Chan, the Cardinals were lacking focus on the field during the game against the Tennyson Lancers on Sept. 18, which they lost 48–0, according to Chan. “We have an effort and tempo problem,” Chan said. “Our timing was off on many plays. We need to run the plays more in practice and flush out our execution. Football is not all about the ability of the players, but being able to execute your plays.

“Football is not all about the ability of the players, but being able to execute your plays.”

The Cardinals’ offense showed signs of potential in their game against the Jefferson Grizzlies on Sept. 25, which they lost 53–6. There were multiple runs where the offense broke through the defensive line. Although the team was giving it their all against the Grizzlies, they need to be able to control themselves and execute their offense, according to Chan.

The Cardinals’ first game of the regular season was on Oct. 3 against the Burton Pumas. Their next game will be on Oct. 9 against the Washington Eagles at 3 p.m. at home.

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THE GAME PLAN: Vars football shifts to double-wing attack