High School Football Offense Bigger Picture


Written by:  Jackson Raddel

Offense is key to any team sports success of course (unless you are in the Diamond League), and more so in the formative years of the athletes because that is the stage where they pick up tendencies, affinity, and preference for certain styles, sets or plays. This is most true for football and aspiring NFL quarterbacks. For these group of players very fundamental to the game, comfort and ease in particular offensive styles and sets mean quicker development, and an even smoother transition and acclimatisation into the NFL when their collegiate days are over. The right offensive style at High School will and could most likely determine the path, and level of success a quarterback will enjoy going forward in their career. Two offensive styles are most common through the football system in the United States, they are;

  • The Spread Offense
  • The Pro-style Offense

The Spread Offense has been made very popular and potent by coaches such as Jack Neumeier and Leo Meyer, but it all started with coach Harvey Russell, who coached Fort Worth’s Masonic Home and School (1927-1942) and used the spread offense to make up for his team’s lack of physicality. The spread offense in its most basic form uses as many as four receivers to spread the defense while creating a large number of passing and running lanes. Most of the time, the offense has focused on passing, which creates a consistent and smooth movement of the ball down the field, or when focused on running, it creates problems for the defense which is literally hoping to figure out which receiver to take on. Another advantage of this offense is that by focusing on receivers, the defense allows a little more time for the quarterback to set up, pick and spot his receiver.

The pro-style offense uses Tight-Ends, Fullbacks, and Running Backs more frequently than are used in the spread offense, and at college or high school. Backs are most important in this offense as they play a major role whether the offense is operating a running or passing play. Running games usually involve a power run play, while passing games will most often employ a play fake. Pro-style offense demands more athleticism, physicality, and a quarterback with a quick hand and very adept decision-making ability, to avoid blitzes.

Given the need for the quarterbacks to be faster, of sure hand, with sharp split-second decision-making skills, the Pro-style offense may be less suitable for high school quarterbacks who are still developing their game, especially in throwing, time management, and their decision-making. Blitzes and interceptions are very likely outcomes at this level, and the spread offense proposes way more options that will be suitable for a young quarterback as it gets more plays and schemes in their growing arsenal. Preparing for the pros, however, is a long road, and being able to grasp the intricacies of the Pro-style offense early, gives any quarterback an edge when looking at the bigger picture of getting ready for the NFL and the rigours of playing quarterback at that level.  A growing number of coaches are making the transition from the NFL to the NCAA and bringing along with them the Pro-style offense, which will make a lot more sense for High School coaches to start looking at inserting the scheme slowly into their programs to help the quarterbacks be more in line with professional development.

Who knows, this could be the beginning of the path to a whole new scheme, or hybrid scheme, the next big thing that changes the way footabll is played.

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