In 1999 I was the head coach of the Kodiak Lions youth football team. Despite my inexperience and in many cases outright ineptitude with offensive football, my players that year were such incredible athletes and football players that they rose above my blunders to go undefeated.
We didn't do it because of my offense. It was more in spite of my offense than anything else.
Before the season even ended I was already hard at work, promising myself that I would never again risk the effort and sweat of my players in an unprepared system. Searching the internet, I came across a number of references to an offensive set called the Double Wing. It seemed to be everything I was looking for.
Taking the excellent advice of Jack Reed, I ordered a book from www.amazon.com called The Toss~ A New Offensive Attack for High-Scoring Football by Jerry Vallotton. What I found within its hallowed pages was the offensive system of my dreams.
Power. Misdirection. Mechanical advantages. An effective passing scheme. It's all here, folks.
The father of the offense is Don Markham. In the early 1970's he began using the back side of the offensive line as lead blockers on his off tackle plays. In order to be successful with this technique, and eliminate penetration, he tightened the line splits (distance between his offensive linemen) to non-existent gaps. Since the 1970's, Coach Markham has racked up championship after championship, overseas and at home.
In the early eighties, another coach of great repute, Hugh Wyatt, was running a Wing-T based offense in Finland when he ran into the bulldozer that was the Don Markham Double Wing. In his video about the offense, Coach Wyatt says, "We'd never seen anything like it... We were beaten seventy-seven to nothing by Don Markham's team running this offense."
In case you aren't good at math, that's eleven touchdowns. Per game. On average.
Further adding to the record books, when Coach Markham came home he took the job as head coach at Bandon High School, in southern Oregon. The following season, after he won the state championship in his first year there, the state of Oregon's Football Association created the "Don Markham rule". This rule automatically ends a game when one team is ahead of the other by 45 or more points going into the second half of play!
I'm not finished, and neither was Coach Markham. In 1991 A team coached by Jerry Vallotton took over as the coaching staff of Bloomington High School and began using Coach Markham's system. The previous year, before Coach Vallotton arrived, the Bloomington varsity was 1-9. In 1992 They went undefeated, winning twelve in a row and securing a CFS Championship.
In 1994, Coach Markham's team demolished the national scoring record set in 1975 by Big Sandy High of Texas. Coach Markham's team scored 880 points in 14 games, and finished the season with a national championship. That's 62.86 points per game (or almost nine touchdowns per game.) These same kids had endured a nine-loss season the year before.
Currently, Tomales High School, where I am an assistant coach, runs the Double Wing offense, and posted eight straight years in the playoffs with it. We are a small school, with a student body of 245, yet we are able to routinely hold our own against schools with two to three times our population because of our ability to dominate a defense and control the clock.
Since I became interested in the Double Wing, I've researched it pretty extensively. I've discovered that there are two main "styles" of the offense. Jerry Vallotton's book, mentioned above, documents the Don Markham system pretty thoroughly. Coach Markham himself has a web site on which he now sells videotapes of his offense.
In my opinion, however, the best source of information on the Double Wing offense is Hugh Wyatt, who was mentioned above. After his sound thrashing at Coach Markham's hands, Coach Wyatt decided he just had to look into this offense. Bringing with him the misdirection knowledge of the Wing-T and the passing knowledge of his Run-and-Shoot days, Coach Wyatt was quick to discern the potential for confusing defenses inherent in this system. After running the offense himself for nearly two decades, and winning a number of championships of his own, Coach Wyatt decided to create and distribute his Dynamics of the Double Wing videotape series. If a picture is worth a thousand words, video of the plays must be worth a million.
This following playbook is part of my own Double Wing playbook. This is not the system we run at Tomales High, although there are similarities.
Figure 1: Double Wing Core Plays
Figure 1 shows the key four plays of the Double Wing offense. The Plays are shown only to one side, but the left hand column is an even defensive front (the 6-2) and the right hand column is an odd defensive front (the 5-3).
From top to bottom, the plays are: 26 Toss, 28 Sweep, 32 Trap, and 45 Counter.
Remember that the Double Wing has tight line splits. This inhibits penetration by the defensive line. The offensive line is also as far from the ball as is legal by the rules. (According to Rule 2, Section 30, Article 9, an offensive linemen is considered on the line of scrimmage if his helmet is even with the center's belt.) These two points are crucial to the success of the Double Wing as an offense.
Playside blocking rules for the offense are Gap, On, Down. Meaning, the first place a playside blocker looks for his block is to his inside gap. If there is no one in his inside gap, he checks for a defender on the line of scrimmage on him. If there is no one on the line of scrimmage and either in his inside gap or on him, then he blocks down on any man head up on the next offensive lineman inside him.
These rules are only a part of the blocking scheme. I actually teach my center to recognize the front as even or odd, and to call "Echo" or "Oscar" to determine the blocking. An "Eagled" front (TNT look with defensive tackles lined up on both guards and a nose tackle on the center) is an automatic "Echo" call and a down block by every man.
Figure 2: Double Wing Passes
I have intentionally kept the passes sparse. The four passes I have included are, from the top down: 26 Toss Pass (Note- This pass works much more effectively as a halfback pass.), 26 Toss Keep Pass, Explode pass, and Explode X pass.
I have not included the myriad of passes available to the Double Wing coach for several reasons. First, because this should always be thought of as a running offense. Passing is something you do because you can score with it, not to move the sticks with this system. Second, an improved passing game is one of the innovations Hugh Wyatt brought to the system, and he has exclusive right to them as intellectual property, so I encourage you to order his playbook and video.
Finally, I included very few passes because you don't need them in this system! If you make certain that your players know without a doubt who they block and how, then you will move the ball well enough without risky passes.
Figure 3: The Basic Wedge Series
The Wedge. This is not a dive. The differences are key.
With the tight line splits of the Double Wing, the opportunity is there for an extremely effective play that is the offensive equivalent of a mugging.
The fullback is tight to the quarterback's rear end in the Double Wing formation. This improves his kickout angle on the tosses, and helps to hide him on the traps. Even more than that, it allows you to run the wedge with incredible potential.
At the snap, the center and playside guard converge on any defensive tackle head up on either one of them, or between them. Ideally, the wedge will have as its focal point a nose tackle, allowing the center to take him straight up.
Both guards will drive their inside shoulders into the ribs of the center, adding to his strength and momentum. They do not block a defender, they push solely on their teammates. Both tackles do the same, pushing on the guards.
The playside wing looks for leakage from the play side. If any defenders are breaking through the wedge, or trying to circle around and enter it from behind, he is to block them out of the play. Remember, the rules allow you to push on the offensive linemen, but not on the ball carrier. You need to practice this, and discuss it with the referees prior to the game to make certain that they are aware of the rule.
The motion wing has the responsibility of looking for fumbles. If the handoff is screwed up, the motion wing must find and cover the football.
The quarterback bootlegs to the back side of the play, and fakes throwing a pass to the tight end on that side, who fakes a post corner route. When this action has been ignored by the defense, run the wedge pass and throw the ball, or let your quarterback run around the back side.
The wedge counter is here courtesy of Dipper, of Delphi forum fame. When the defense begins to sell out to stop the wedge, run the wedge counter and hit them for big yards.
I believe that the Double Wing is one of the most effective offenses available for the youth level. Yes, you can pull the backside guard and tackle. Teams as young as 6-7 years of age have done it. Yes, you can trap. Yes, you can use the passing system effectively. Yes, you will hear screams of frustration from opposing defensive coordinators.
In order to accomplish these things, however, you need to understand the offense. There are a number of resources that are available to help you, and in my opinion this system is probably the best supported offense available, bar none.
More information on the Double Wing can be found at:
www.coachwyatt.com The exclusive location for the Wyatt system, as described in the videotape and playbook series Dynamics of the Double Wing. Coach Wyatt's tapes take you step by step through installation, trouble shooting, and coaching each fine point of the offense. If your funds are low, I recommend the video/playbook combo, and Installing the System as virtually required viewing.
The Toss~ A New Offensive Attack for High Scoring Football ISBN: 0-13-632548-3. This book is now available solely via the author at www.doublewing.org. Amazon.com is no longer able to procure this book! Do not place yourself on a "waiting list," as the book will never be ordered!
The Message Board.This forum was created by long time coach "Dipper", the inventor of the wedge counter. In 2004 Dipper handed the reins to me, and I've been the moderator and owner of the forum ever since. As the membership grows, the knowledge and experience of the forum expands as well. Presently there are hundreds of experienced coaches and thousands of messages offering detailed advice for installing, developing, and perfecting your offensive attack. Registration is free, although you'll have to put up with some advertisements from the forum provider. Paid accounts get ad-free forum reading.
www.coachmarkham.com This web site was created by Coach Markham, father of the double wing, and features materials for sale.
www.gregorydoublewing.com Featuring the powerful "Bull, Bear, and Bison" additions to the double wing, as well as Jack Gregory's unique Severe Angle Blocking (SAB) scheme, this site also contains links and information about youth speed building, and the annual Double Wing Coaches' Symposium.