Kickoff Reverse

In the immortal words of Clark "Dum Coach" Wilkins, "Youth players are like kittens. Show them some string and they'll chase it all over the field." Misdirection is perhaps one of the greatest ways to attack a defense. It works on special teams, too. In 1990, when I was a player on the horribly inept Sumner High School JV football team, we found that there were two plays we could get consistent yardage on. One was the crack sweep (shown as the Wing-T "Wing right 27 pitch") and the other was our kickoff return. The reason our return was so good is that we ran a reverse/fake reverse instead of the typical wedge return. Even with proper contain, the inside out blocking angles and the reverse action allowed us to continually break to the outside. Had we been faster we might have scored a lot more points. Especially since our lousy defense meant that we returned a lot of kickoffs. I despaired of ever finding that return again until a youth coach from Colorado told me about a local high school that ran a reverse kickoff return. At my insistent begging, he scouted them for me, and the diagram below is the kickoff return that netted Ridgemonte High a 38 yard return average and four touchdowns in 1999.

Each of the players on the return team are given names like offensive players. The traditional line positions are named after linemen, but in all honesty, since the kickoff team will be kicking short if they've scouted you, put better handed players up front and give them plenty of reps on catching onside kicks. Don't let them tackle themselves! If they catch it in the air, make sure they run it back. 'Hey, free yards!' The LT and LE are responsible for getting in the way of the "center fielders", R5 and R4. A hard hit isn't necessary, but slow them down and give the wall time to develop. LH and B are responsible for doing the same to their counterparts, R3 and R2. The key block is the one thrown by RH. His sole responsibility is to keep the outermost defender on the side of the return from interfering with the return. He should have a good angle to blast that player right off the field. The return can be run to either side of the field, increasing it's power. Almost more effective is the fake reverse. If the ball is kicked to the player we want running the return, he is to execute a fake handoff to the other runner. Coach your players well to make the fakes look good. Fakers should never "show their bellies" to the coverage team. Even more important, this kickoff return will go for a touchdown sooner or later. Don't let that touchdown come back for clipping! Go crazy on any player that clips in practice

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