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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
August 24, 2019 1:20 pm  

Sorry I haven't posted on DumCoach much lately, my football mind being occupied with preseason preparation.  Now that we've moved up to PeeWees (11U + weight limits), we've graduated past all the excessive dumbing-down the Morris County YFL imposes and can play more or less straight Fed rules and will use a full size field for our home games.

The Mt. Olive (NJ) organization for reasons we don't know canceled the memorial Trophy Game series they'd instituted that's been played Labor Day weekend for several years, so we (the Newton Braves) scheduled a pre-season match with the Randolph Bulldogs and played it today in Freedom Park, their home field.  However, we agreed to modify the rules (not having spent much time on special teams) to make the ball dead in possession of the receiving team where any kick touches the ground or a player.

I don't know about the results of the other level games played in the match, but a funny thing:  Last year I was miffed that in our match at Mt. Olive, every level but ours (10Us) got the national anthem played over the P.A. before their game.  Today we (11Us) didn't get it either in the Randolph match but the game after ours did.  I tend to think of it at the time as something of a nuisance to interrupt our discussions and stand for the Star Spangled Banner, regardless of who's playing, but then when we don't get it played for us, that's like, what are we, chopped liver?

Actually, unfortunately we were chopped liver today.  Actually we have been since starting season preparation.  We picked up some players, but practice attendance has been down compared to my previous years with this club -- and my previous club -- and there's been a general sense of the kids not putting out.  As I told my fellow coaches, I've seen worse (Co-op City Cowboys Jr. PeeWees, 2007), but this was pretty discouraging today.  Mental mistakes due to not paying attention in practice or concentrating during the game, and a tendency to quit early in the play on both sides of the ball.  Final score 6-26.

There is a slight suspicion we've put in too many play calls this early.  It doesn't seem excessive compared to what we've had in the past, although it incorporates a lot of new stuff now that Coach Dennis is running the defense, but it may have been asking a lot of them to get this much in 3 weeks.  But that doesn't account for the players' giving up on plays.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
September 8, 2019 4:43 pm  

Yesterday the Newton Braves played our league opener against the Jefferson Falcons at Lakeside Fields in Lake Hopatcong.  We seriously wanted a win after what happened at last year's game -- I mean, seriously, how can you foul after a game is over?

One of our players didn't make weight, but so did 3 of the Falcons.  To open the game the Falcons tried to sneak in a striper on their kickoff team.  I hadn't seen #68 but AC John did and insisted they sub him out on the kickoff.  MCYFL rules don't allow stripers to play anywhere but on snap downs, and then only from tackle to tackle; however, I said I didn't think it was to their advantage to play him there.  Indeed as I noted later in the game, he was a scrub who just needed the field time; he was very slow at tackle on offense.  MCYFL doesn't have minimum play rules, but try to uphold the spirit of participation for all.  So we didn't call them on it when he played on their next kickoff.

We opened with a decent kickoff runback and a no-huddle scripted series, got a first down, but fumbled the ball away on the next series.  The Falcons were still using mostly their pistol-fly offense, but seem to have sacrificed some of the close timing in trade for much better snap security.  Our press defense kept their receivers at the line practically the whole game, but they made it up on the ground, scoring a touchdown on their opening possession, set up by the best play in youth football: the broken one.  The Falcons' conversion attempt failed.

However, momentum then shifted.  The Braves drove for a touchdown, scoring on a long criss-cross counter that head coach Dan was sure would work; he huddled on the field to call the play, usually leaving it to AC Lance.  The conversion kick failed, so it was 6-6.  We kicked off deep, which was a mistake that I think our head coach learned from, as he called for hard ground ball kickoffs the rest of the game; these were much more effective.  Anyway, with good field position on return of the deep kick, the Falcons seemed to be in position to make hay, but instead were forced into long yardage and punting.  AC Dennis's blitzing and shifting defense forced a lot of sacks the rest of the game, turning what had been a potent Falcons attack impotent.  The Braves scored another touchdown on another misdirection play shortly before halftime and ran in the extra point to make it 13-6.

We all had seen in the first half that Falcons ILB #24 (and really only he among their LBs -- the rest seemed to stand around) made most of their plays, so the Braves OL had instructions to get on him the second half.  Although they succeeded in doing so, that didn't really open up our scoring.  In fact there was no scoring the second half, but I think we also learned punting doesn't pay; we got one off for a net of about 3 yards.  (It may be that the only worthwhile PeeWee kick is a quick kick, but we won't have one as long as only our linemen are kickers.)  So it ended 13-6 us.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
September 15, 2019 4:11 pm  

Roxbury was missing a PeeWee team, so at our home match at Newton HS today we substituted a game against the Butler (NJ) Bulldogs.  Weight limits and other league rules did not apply.  However, the Bulldogs sat some of their regulars.

The game opened as if the Bulldogs would have the better of the Braves.  On the opening kickoff we had a player injured (sat the rest of the day, probable nyperextension of the knee) and fumbled away the ball to the Bulldogs.  Then on their opening series the Bulldogs escaped from 4th and long for a first down.  But the rest of the game was all downhill for them.  We wound up subbing a lot of players into unfamiliar positions, trying to come up with creative ways not to slaughter the Bulldogs worse, and there were times when we wound up with 10 players on the field and deliberately let play proceed.  We won 41-0, forfeiting an extra point at the close.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
September 17, 2019 4:44 pm  

Roxbury was missing a PeeWee team, so at our home match at Newton HS today we substituted a game against the Butler (NJ) Bulldogs.  Weight limits and other league rules did not apply.  However, the Bulldogs sat some of their regulars.

Tonight I found out that was an understatement.  Their PeeWee team had played a game the previous day, so the team the Braves faced was about half scrubs and half starters.  The Bulldogs have a long roster, make me wonder how they get playing time unless they play a lot of extra games like this.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
September 22, 2019 12:54 pm  

Today (Sunday) at Newton HS the Braves hosted the Vernon (NJ) Vikings.  I know our Super PeeWees (what any sensible league would call Junior PeeWees) beat theirs handily, because we had to wait for that one to finish to start our PeeWee game, running a little behind.  We'd expected this game to be tough because of how they'd beaten us last year.

The Braves received the opening kickoff and soon fumbled the ball away -- a problem that plagued us the entire first half, although we evened up the turnover exchanges in the second.  The Vikings then got a touchdown that was primarly a pair of big gainers -- one of them a counter that broke outside.  Their extra point kick missed and it was 0-6.

Most of the rest of the first half, the Braves and Vikings traded fumbles, muffed snaps, punts, and holding on downs.  However, the Braves broke one run to the outside from near midfield and were set up first and goal from the Viking 1 yard line.  Then Coach Lance outsmarted himself by calling for a waggle pass, and we lost the ball and 10 yards on the resulting sack and fumble.  Late in the half the Vikings got another touchdown on a long pass play and it was 0-12 at halftime.

Opening the second half, the Vikings turned the ball over near their goal line and the Braves capitalized quickly with a touchdown.  Our kick missed and it was 6-12.  However, in the 4th quarter the Vikings got another touchdown and made it 6-18.  Still, late in the game the Braves got another touchdown to make it 12-18.  Even though we hadn't practiced the onside kick, Nick Kurilko's attempt was a good one that the Vikings barely managed to cover, and the game ended shortly thereafter.

Lance blamed himself for the loss on the boner play call.  Our defense broke but didn't bend, stopping the Vikings cold many times but allowing a few big gainers.  We had lots of heat on their quarterback but sometimes failed to bring him down, and our press coverage and blitzes failed often in jamming the receivers, and left them wide open so often that it was only errant passes that kept the Vikings from having several more deep completions.  On offense we couldn't count on consistent short gains, which is why we kept trying to kick PATs.  We had numerous failures in down blocking to cover against penetration, and eventually stopped trying to pull our guards.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
September 30, 2019 5:08 am  

In the Wayne-Newton game yesterday (I wish they'd dug up a recording of Wayne Newton singing the national anthem for the P.A.), I'd expected the Wayne Panthers to give the Braves a tough game, but not the 0-37 drubbing we took.  Our pass defense looked especially bad, with both breakdowns in coverage and just plain being beaten.  Symptomatic of our loss was what happened near the end of the first half when the Braves called a throwback pass ("bootleg pass"), a play that I'd never seen not succeed anywhere I'd coached: The pass back to our quarterback looked complete, but then a Wayne player snatched it out of his hands and ran it back 65 yards for a touchdown, in the process shaking off several too-high tackle attempts.  I have to credit the Panthers for a good defense on that play, where most PeeWee teams would just leave the quarterback open, and all around.

It really looked like the Panthers wanted to play and our players didn't want to play that much.  The only good points for the Braves were that they fumbled less and recovered more, had our best punting net yardage in a game all season, and boxed the ends fairly well most of the game, and late in the game, when it was scrubs vs. scrubs, played the Panthers pretty well.  What that showed me was that our subs were really hungry to play, while our starters weren't.  I'll recommend some of our subs from that game start our next game, which is against the also very tough Madison Dodgers.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
September 30, 2019 5:54 am  

What that showed me was that our subs were really hungry to play, while our starters weren't.  I'll recommend some of our subs from that game start our next game

If you want in, get in.  Otherwise, you're just eyeballing your talent.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
September 30, 2019 10:05 am  

If you want in, get in.  Otherwise, you're just eyeballing your talent.

That's the way I look at it.

Meanwhile I remembered a detail I'd misremembered before.  The runback of that stolen ball (I guess it'd be scored as an interception) didn't produce a touchdown directly; I'd been conflating it with another play where we had those pathetic from-behind tackling attempts.  But it did set the Panthers up for one shortly before half.  And as they started that drive from inside the Braves 15, the P.A. announcer asked, "Could this be the dagger in the heart?"

It wouldn't've bothered me, but...this was at a home game.  ???


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
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North Carolina
High School
September 30, 2019 11:46 am  

And as they started that drive from inside the Braves 15, the P.A. announcer asked, "Could this be the dagger in the heart?"

I hate it when PA announcers think they are the show and editorialize.

—Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
October 7, 2019 6:18 am  

Saturday night the Newton Braves went to the New York Jets-built facility in Madison to play the Dodgers, who had a PeeWee squad of about 30.  We trailed 0-26 at halftime but lost by only 6-34 because we played about even in the second half.  I was encouraged because even with that long a roster, the Dodgers played their star linebacker, #58, every single down to the end on defense.  In case you're interested, the Dodgers use a fly offense mixed with a little regular wing T and occasional twins receivers, and right from the beginning took advantage of our bad coverage to beat us with a long TD pass; we play "press" OK but fail at the "trail".  Dodgers defense is mostly 4-3 with the 4 playing wide and the 3 tight inside.  Their linebackers play close to the line, yet manage to fill very well, and pursue well to the sidelines, as I saw in 2017 -- a bit unusual in kiddie ball, where inside-out pursuit is often lacking.

The "highlight" of the night came in the first half when our LG, also #58, tried to tee off on their #58, came flying at where he'd last seen him, and totally wiffed!  Shows you have to keep your head up and look at whomever you're trying to hit.  The Madison MLB just took a normal step and then looked at him as he flew by and wound up just standing in air next to him, like, "Where'd he go?".  I was reminded of the scene in Batman (the one with Jack Nicholson) wherein the Joker sends a bunch of comical goons at the Batman in a building, and one of them takes a run at him and falls thru a gap in the floor, while Batman just watches his trajectory.

The Dodgers did not play hurry-up as they'd done when we played there 2 years ago, because at the PeeWee level in the MCYFL there's not even an honor system play-everybody-enough rule.  At the lower levels the Morris County League doesn't have a formal minimum play rule, but the clubs are pretty good about following the league's honor system they do have whereby the scrubs should expect to play a decent amount every game, and when we played this long squad at Clinic level in 2017, they were very good at doing a quick huddle (because the league also had at that level a must-huddle rule except for teams that are trying to catch up) to get in a lot of plays so their entire roster saw enough field.

In short, the Dodgers creamed us, but not as badly as I'd feared, and now we're thru with the most challenging part of our schedule, the murderer's row of Vernon, Wayne, and Madison on successive weeks.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
October 7, 2019 7:33 am  

I forgot to mention that I think the Dodgers scored their second touchdown against us by running to the strong side of an unbalanced line they used only that time, that we didn't have an adjustment for.  I won't know for sure until it goes up on HUDL.

It feels a little good to me that a team that usually wallops ours would pass for their first TD and then go to a one-time UBL to score their second.  That plus their playing their star MLB the whole game means they couldn't bowl straight over us.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
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Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
October 7, 2019 7:43 am  

That plus their playing their star MLB the whole game means they couldn't bowl straight over us.

Bob, you lost 34-6.  To me, it sounds like they were bowling.
I wouldn't put a lot of analysis as to why they played their "star MLB the whole game."  Could have been the header's kid.  Could have a complaining parent.  Could have been trying to run up the score.  Could have been without another MLB...

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
3rd - 5th
Asst Coach
October 7, 2019 4:36 pm  

Bob, you lost 34-6.  To me, it sounds like they were bowling.

True, but we weren't pins to any greater degree than most of the other teams in the league against them.  There are about 3 contenders, all in our conference, and outside of the other two, the Dodgers usually come out with a lopsided win, half the time by a shutout.  We've just played those 3 teams in a row.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
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Posts: 9503
New Jersey
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Asst Coach
October 14, 2019 2:30 pm  

Looked like the Denville Blue Angels were at our level when we scrimmaged them in August, but not Sunday when the Braves played them in a league game.  The Braves kept the ball the entire first quarter, and went up 20-0 at halftime on what looked like a hideout pass play.  Our receiver was outside the numbers (9 yard mark) when the ready for play whistle came on one play, but the near official said that was OK, and he was uncovered, so we lined him up there again on the next play and had an easy touchdown.  A couple of Blue Angels looked like they weren't too interested in tackling, and their spread shotgun offense went plenty of nowhere.  Blue Angels were apparently banged up frequently, but they had only about 3 substitutes.  We kept it to 20-0 at the end.


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
Diamond
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 9503
New Jersey
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Asst Coach
October 20, 2019 3:39 pm  

Saturday the Braves went to Mount Olive HS, the game having been moved from Turkey Brook Park, to play our traditional rival the Mt. Olive Marauders in a twilight game.  Before the game, thanks to research by our coaches, we got their ringer kicked out on weigh-in.  Seems they'd been getting away with playing him as an older-lighter all season, when for his age he was 20 lbs. over the limit.  The Marauders' HC complained that we just wanted the "W" and that it hurts the kids -- but what about the kid who could've been playing all this time who'd lost playing time to a ringer?  And what about that player himself, who could've been playing up at his own age level?

We kicked off, and the Marauders established a pattern that, unfortunately for the Braves, persisted the entire game: being able to spread the field with receivers in a shotgun or pistol formation while breaking keepers and some handoffs up the middle for good gains, and being able to get to the sideline and then run very close to it for long gains.  It was always the far sideline from us, so I won't be able to fully assign credit or blame until I see the HUDL recording; our pursuers seemed to take good angles but then either get cut off by last second blocks or just fail to complete tackles.  Whatever, the Marauders soon got a TD against us, failed on the extra point pass, and it was 0-6.

The Marauders' kickoff was a slow dribbler up the middle, spinning like a top, which our front line player Michael seemed to have no idea what to do with until it was about on top of him, and then dove over it but failed to recover, and our other player in the front 5 got to too late, so the Marauders recovered and again got a fairly quick TD, this time also making the run for 1 point.  0-13.

The Marauders next kicked off deep and the Braves began a long drive that ended in the last minute of the half when our 4th down run from the 2 yard line got us not quite to the goal line, as our trap was unaccountably run to the opposite side HC Dan had called for.  We called time out hoping to make something happen in that field position, but the Marauders got off the goal line with a 25 yard run, and then on a swing pass to one of trips receivers, our cover player failed to do something Coaches Dennis and Dan had emphasized in practice that week, namely advance on a retreating receiver; instead they broke off another sideline run to score another TD at halftime, their extra point pass failing again.  (That pass had been open the first time but thrown badly, and the second time our player covered it well.)  0-19.

The Marauders' star DL, #45, started at LDE but played like a LB, making tackles from afar -- so much so that I wanted to see if he'd be in coverage if we lined up in twins to that side; he wasn't.  Later they switched him to middle DG.

Second half the Braves took the kickoff and drove the length of the field for a TD, making the extra point on a waggle keeper to make it 7-19.  We kicked off deep and held on downs, the Marauders not interested in punting even on 4th and long in their own end.  However, the Marauders also held us and began a threatening drive.  This time, however, we intercepted on the goal line and got a runback to about the 40.  We then drove to the Marauder 25 aided by a grabbing-the-mask-of-our-FB penalty, but a penalty for some very blatant holding on the edge by our pulling guard set us back to where we couldn't finish with a few minutes left.  The Marauders killed the clock and won.


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