I knew it was coming. In the middle of the 4th quarter, one of the more squirrely kids said, "Guess what we're going to do to you, coach? Heh, heh, heh." Which prompted a "way to give it away" from another kid. I saw a couple kids go grab the cooler (thankfully it was actually water, not gatorade) and my center was standing right in front of me, looking behind me with huge eyes. I tried to walk slowly and pretend I didn't what was coming my way. The funny thing is that they're so short, they only got me from the waist down, which is fine by me, it was cold.
The necessary coaching changes that kept me up last Thursday night worked this Thursday afternoon. The kids are getting their plays down (we had no miscues) and learning how to hit, but some of the coaching changes I made put us over the top in today's game. First of all, we ran them really hard during practice this week, since they got tired last game. They had a lot more energy during the 2nd half of this game.
Secondly, moving our speedy powerback to tailback made a huge difference. He ran all over the other team, scoring two touchdowns, one of which was a 59 yard run. If he can get outside, he's almost unstoppable. We moved our tailback to powerback and he really liked it. After the game he said, "I like powerback, I get to hit a lot more." He's a great kid, incredible attitude. Rather than complaining that he only carried the ball once he was excited about getting to block more.
Thirdly, my play calling really improved. I was able to run one play to set up another play. I was so overwhelmed during our first game but I'm learning what to do as coach and it's becoming a lot easier to manage the game. We kept pitching the ball to our speedy tailback during the opening drive of the 3rd quarter, setting up the reverse. On 3rd and 8 from midfield, we ran a reverse to the wide receiver out of our usual sweep play. The whole defense was keying on the tailback that it took a second to notice he had handed off to the receiver. The receiver made a nice move to avoid two tackles and we got a HUGE first down. It was the first time all year I'd felt like my play calling made a difference. A couple plays later we ran a play where the tailback goes in motion, running by the quarterback and taking the hand off and then running to the left, outside the tackle. Our little tailback is so fast, he hit the outside and outran the defense for his 59 yard touchdown run. On the two point conversion, we ran the exact same play where the tailback goes in motion, but we had the quarterback fake the hand off and run to his right for a naked bootleg. It's a tricky play because it's really just an improv I made up, the line isn't blocking to the right so the QB is all alone. But the defense was expecting the tailback to take the hand off after going in motion that the QB ran right through two stunned defenders for the two point conversion. That made it 20-8 and we had the game.
Unlike last week, we got stronger as the game went on and the other team quit. But last week I thought we were even in talent, this week I think we were actually better than the other team. They scored on the first drive of the game with the use of a halfback pass, but once we got our guys to "stay home" we started shutting them down.
The biggest play of the game was when Ottawa had the ball on our 4 yard line with just 25 seconds left in the half. On 4th down, we stopped them to take over on downs but on the very first play, we fumbled and Ottawa recovered. Our QB and powerback told me the ball was wet. So right after our big goal line stand we give them the ball on our own 5 with 15 seconds left. But we stopped their run through the middle and the clock ran out. That series was the biggest of the game. They marched down field with the help of a reverse and a 4th down conversion where our guys thought they were punting. But when Ottawa ran out of trick plays and was forced to run up the middle, we stuffed them.
Very proud of our kids and loved seeing the excitement on their faces!