My 8-man SW experience...The good, the bad, and the ugly
Last night, we opened our season. Just remember, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly because that's how our night was. As some of you may know, I was hired as HC for a very small school's 8-man football program. Only 49 kids in the HS. It was nip and tuck the entire summer since my hire as to how many kids were actually going to play. Summer workouts averaged about 6-7 kids. 14 kids had signed up to play. Fast forward to last Friday, we were supposed to scrimmage the school where I had previously served as a parapro for 3 years. Well, we had 1 kid get a sprained ankle earlier in the week who we were waiting to get clearance on. Another kid decided to walk off the field 2 days earlier. Then there were 2 kids who started late and were not eligible to play in the scrimmage. With just 7 players, I cancelled the scrimmage.
During this time, I was able to put in the SW and the kids seemed to pick it up pretty well. Unfortunately, with no reserves, defense was much more difficult. We are basing out of a 2-3-3 that I picked up from another coach in Wisconsin or somewhere over there. However, I was never really able to get a permanent defense together because of practice numbers fluctuating so much until school finally started this week. I was finally able to get some semblance of a defense together as we went over our opponent's offense. Our opponent was a team that beat us pretty badly a couple of years ago and then forfeited last year because they did not have sufficient numbers to field a team for that game.
So we entered last night with just 10 players. Our opponent was much bigger than our kids and they had probably 16-17 kids. They took a 6-0 lead, but we drove down the field and scored and convered the 2-point for an 8-6 lead. We scored and converted again to make it 16-6. The scoring then went back and forth after that, but never lost the lead and we lead 30-28 with 10:55 left in the game. So much for the good.
The bad...We lose our WB/QB/OLB in the 2nd quarter. Another kid who had just been cleared from a previous knee injury sustained another seemingly serious knee injury in the 3rd quarter. We are now with only 8 players with several who have no real previous experience. But back to the good...These kids played with amazing heart to lead the entire game. But the bad. With just over 10 minutes, one of our kids hits his head and is having some concussion like symptoms. We have no one left on the bench and this is a non-league game. So I call the game. Our 30-28 lead turns into a 2-0 forfeit loss. But we live to fight again.
The ugly...On the ride back, we notify the father of the kid with the severe knee injury that we are just a few minutes out. He was previously notified at the time of the injury. The kid is in a lot of pain, especially the last 20 minutes of the trip. Myself and another player are doing our best to keep him comfortable as our ice supply has dwindled to nothing because of other injuries. We get back to the school and I tell the dad that his son was hurt pretty badly and he needs to get him to the ER. The father starts ripping at me. "You push these kids too hard." "I told you to take it easy with him." I remain calm and try to reiterate. "I understand you're upset, but you really need to get your son to the ER." He continues on. By the way, he's been drinking. My AC sees what's happening and comes over. The dad starts saying some of the same stuff to my AC. My AC tells him that "You signed the papers for him to play." And we did have medical clearance for him. The dad now gets nose to nose with my AC. I've got my arm between them. The dad then lunges forward and I see my AC's arm come forward." I thought he was just pushing himself away. Turns out that he connected and hit the dad giving him a bloody nose. Some of our players hold back our coach while I and maybe the guy's girlfriend are moving the dad back. She's yelling, "Get in the car!" I go over and tell her that they need to get the kid to the ER. She yells back that they'll take care of it. Get out of the way. I motion the bus driver to move so they can get out. Everyone leaves. This afternoon, I learn that my AC has been suspended pending a review, so I will be coaching myself for at least the week and next game which is a conference match-up.
OK. let's get to the SW part. Remember, this is 8-man. Offense killed it. One of our backs unofficially had 20 carries for 239 yards. I haven't had a chance to go through the film yet to determine exactly what was what. The kid doing the stats kind of messed up a bit, but I think there may be more. Forget wedge! Plain and simple FB dive gave us yards and 2 TDs. Some more bad...We had a passing TD called back because our center was 2 yards past the LOS. We had a bad snap when we were in side the opponent's 20 that killed a drive. Our FB did fumble a few times. The really bad was that our tackling was terrible. Lots of unfinished and broken tackles. The kids would be where they need to be, but didn't finish.
Overall, considering what we have numbers-wise and what we competed against, our kids exceeded all expectations. If it weren't for injuries, this team would now be 1-0.