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OFFENSE DEBATE: New school spread makes champions these days

POSTED: September 4, 2014 3:49 p.m.

he easy argument in support of the spread offense is to just look around.

Start with college football, where seven of the top 10 teams in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll employ the spread offense.

Zoom in on the SEC, where spread offense critics used to go for evidence that traditional power formation football still yielded the best results. Now 10 out of 14 teams incorporate spread offense concepts.

We know this is the predominant brand of college football Forsyth County high school players watch, and, as such, probably the kind of football they’d most want to emulate.

"I think today’s kids, when they watch football, the forward pass dominates," West Forsyth football coach Adam Clack said. "It’s what’s exciting to them."

So let them play it, because it’s also the brand of football that is winning state championships in Georgia high school football now.

The evidence used to be convincing against spread offenses. Why even argue when it was Camden County, Lowndes or Parkview winning state championships every year in the state’s largest classification?

But in recent years, the trend has swung the other way.

Last season, the state champions in the three highest classifications all ran the spread offense (Norcross in AAAAAA, Creekside in AAAAA and Griffin in AAAA). It was much the same the year before (Norcross in AAAAAA, Gainesville in AAAAA, Sandy Creek in AAAA), plus Class A private school champion Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy ran the spread too.

But zoom out just a bit. Look at teams that made the semifinals in the three largest classifications and you’ll find teams that run the spread offense still dominate. Last season, 10 of 12 teams in the semifinals ran the spread. Same in 2012.

Now, to be sure, spread offense has become a nebulous term. Several variations have developed in recent years. There is the Air Raid, the spread option, the Pistol. There are pass-first spread teams and run-first spread teams.

No matter the distinction, the goal is the same: spread defensive players out across the field to create a numbers advantage for offensive playmakers.

And if your team has a dynamic quarterback, even better.

Just ask West. It’s produced the three highest scoring offenses in Forsyth County history. The Wolverines have five of the top six single-game point totals in county history.

"You can spread the field with the option of throwing," said Clack, who was West’s offensive coordinator for three seasons before becoming head coach. "You also have that option of using the quarterback as another runner and making a defense account for all 11 players. I think that’s where the stress is of an athletic quarterback in a spread offense."

It’s pretty clear: the spread offense produces stress, points and championships.

Brian Paglia is sports editor at the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at bpaglia@forsythnews.com, 770-906-8976 or follow him on Twitter at @BrianPaglia.

 

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