Editor’s Note: This weekly column takes a closer look into coaches’ playbooks, area trends and popular schemes in high school football.
Anybody who has watched Kelso football in the past 50 years has seen the play. The quarterback darts out of the pocket before lofting a pitch to the running back, who takes off upfield.
Since the days of Ed Laulainen, the Hilanders have ran “the lead.”
It still works like it did in the first game.
The play is a run option outside of the tackles, which the quarterback can toss it outside to the halfback or fullback or take it himself should a lane be open.
It’s one of the most rudimentary plays in area football, with the offensive line flowing toward the sideline with the ball carrier, and the back to the outside.
Against Mountain View, with Quentin Nelson under center and the bruising Max McDaniel in the backfield, the play was especially effective, coach Steve Amrine recalled, the play was especially effective.
The tackle on the opposite end of the play is taught to find someone on the second level to block, like a safety or linebacker, while other linemen look to slow down the other linebackers and defensive linemen.
With hyper-athletic personnel like Nelson and McDaniel, the defensive backs were usually the only grouping with half a chance to keep pace.
This season, they like the play all the same with quarterback Marshall Coleman and running back Josh Webb, a tandem not unlike McDaniel and Nelson. That’s just another part of the play’s beauty and significance: it can be taught and run no matter the roster and turnover.
“It’s a tough play to stop because you get guys in space,” Amrine said. “That’s the key to it.”
It doesn’t have to be a run play, though, and Kelso can run it from different formations. Generally, though, it starts from 21 personnel — two backs and one tight end — or 20 personnel with two backs and no tight end.
The latter formation allows for receivers to work downfield, and if the safety closes in too quick, watch out for the bomb.
More often, though, it’s a five-yard gain, which is the primary goal.
Ed Laulainen ran the same back in the 1970s and it stuck around ever since.
“It’s a very good football play,” Amrine said. “We can run a variety of looks. It’s not just one play; it’s not just out of one formation; it’s not just to one side. It’s a lot of different ways that we can get to that form of wide play.”