Friday, October 15, 2010
Somerset doubling up to success
By Brendan Hall
SOMERSET, Mass. -- Nick Freitas recalls the final preseason scrimmage of the 2006 preseason, a tussle with Wareham when he was Somerset High's defensive coordinator. He watched as the Vikings plowed away time and again with a daunting double-wing offensive scheme that pulverized opponents that season behind two future Division 1 players, offensive tackle Shea Allard (Delaware) and quarterback/defensive end Mike Laperriere (Northeastern).
And from then on, Freitas was instantly hooked, spending countless hours digging up whatever he could find on the throwback offense, a two tight end set with one-inch line splits, two wing backs and a fullback two yards behind the quarterback.
Others' playbooks might be thick. But the premise with this scheme is decidedly more straightforward and simplex, requiring good trap blocking, misdirection handoffs and a tough-minded quarterback who isn't afraid to throw his elbows around. When the quarterback rolls out for a pass, his tight ends and receivers aren't demonstrating the entire tree. Yet at the same time, the tight splits and backfield alignments give way to convoys of blockers at the point of attack, and takes away teams' blitz packages.
"The great thing about this offense is it's easy to learn," senior running back Alex Estrella said. "You can put someone in a position and they get the basics in two hours, whereas in a spread it might take weeks."
Since the system was installed at Somerset in the summer of 2009, the Blue Raiders are 13-3, including a 5-0 mark headed into tonight's matchup at 4-0 Martha's Vineyard. So far this season, the Raiders are averaging nearly 330 yards a game on the ground, and 31.8 points per game (second-best in Division 3), thanks to a slew of running backs led by LeDoux, Estrella, Jaron Spear, Seth DeMello and Josh Zadjel; in the trenches, the Raiders move the chains as 6-foot-4, 280-pound Division 1 prospect Ian Levescque does.
"It's very tough to stop. I think it's an equalizer, in regards to less talented teams," Freitas said. "I looked at it from a defensive coordinator, and liked the fact that it controls the clock. When you don't have numbers like I wish we had (the Raiders dress just over 30 on their varsity), where we can't give kids blows and stuff, the philosophy we teach is that it's better to give than receive -- it's like Christmas -- so we like being on offense and controlling the clock."
Said senior quarterback Adam Ledoux, "You always have two-on-ones. You've got two smaller kids who are fast, going up against a big kid who might not be used to double-teams and getting blown off the ball."
"Plus," Levesque added. "It's an offense that wears defenses down. Defenses are gassed by the end of the game."
So if it's that easy, why don't more teams run it? As Estrella notes, it's not for everyone. But this system seems to blend in fittingly to the grind-it-out identity of this blue-collar town nestled just across the Taunton River from Fall River.
"We're hard-nosed football players, always ready to go out there and make plays, do their jobs," Ledoux said. "Offseason, we're lifting every day year-round. We're just going to work harder than you are."
A typical defensive gameplan against an offense like Somerset's calls for two things:
1. Watch the quarterback -- Ninety to ninety-five percent of the time, coordinators will tell you, the play is going to the opposite side of the direction the quarterback opens his hips after the snap.
2. Follow the guards -- Many times, double-wing offenses will outweigh teams at the point of attack by pulling a backside guard.
Freitas acknowledged these axioms, but pointed back to the principle of misdirection -- just when you've figured it out, he feels, they come back with a new ripple.
"Alot of teams, if you run motion, they'll anticipate going to that side," Freitas said. "But for every instance of what a team could take away, there's something there to exploit it."