Game 3 Result – Sherwood 45, Beaverton 18

I missed a football game as coach for the first time in two years so that I could attend and host a fundraising dinner for the TechStart Education Foundation, a non-profit I help run. It is torturous missing a game like this as I am very much aware that the clock is counting down on the number of Matthew’s games that I have left to coach in my lifetime. My goal was to prepare the team as much as possible to defend Beaverton and give clear guidance to our on-the-field and off-the-field leaders.

One of my greatest joys in coaching is working closely with Matthew to develop his understanding of defensive schemes, game-time adjustments, and recognition. He is a smart kid that demonstrates great in-game leadership and I continue to be amazed at his ability to run the defense on the field.

While we normally call alignments, blitz packages, and coverage schemes from the sidelines we needed to be particularly adaptive for this game as we knew we were likely to see two very distinct offensive sets from Beaverton: a wide spread with double twin receiver sets, and a traditional power I formation. As I’ve mentioned before, we run a mix of 3-5-3 and split-6 alignments. Our plan to beat their spread was QB pressure with plenty of outside attacking from our defensive ends. This lead to a scheme where our Mike linebacker would auto-shift to split-6 when Beaverton came out in the spread with a 5-man front. The idea is to get our DEs attacking the outside shoulders of both their tackles to stop both their off-tackle running game and bring pressure on the QB to slow down their passing game. I felt that being in the 3-5-3, while potentially allowing us to be more aggressive with blitzing schemes would over-complicated our underneath pass coverage.

In addition, we also had some automatic blitz and automatic man-to-man press calls from our outside linebackers (hawks) and cornerbacks when they sent their slot in motion back to the QB. This was based on extensive film review and our understanding of their tendencies.

As it turned out Beaverton never ran their I formation so Matthew and his backup ended up calling our defense throughout the game. I felt a bit bad for my substitute defensive coordinator but in some sense he was probably relieved. The results on our defense were very good – four interceptions, including one on their second play from scrimmage that was returned for a touchdown, nine tackles for loss, and only 74 yards rushing allowed. If we had a weakness it was in allowing for some big pass plays (274 total passing yards allowed), but our secondary limited the damage and more than made it up for it with their picks.

Our offense was extremely efficient. Our top three backs had great rushing days: 4 carries for 139 yards, 9 carries for 122 yards, and 4 carries for 78 yards. Our sweep, off-tackle, and counter plays are working extremely well, and I credit significant improvement in our tight-end and wingback blocking for this. If we have a weakness right now it is that our inside trap play is not working like we need it to. Our current thinking is that our centers need to improve their down-blocking for this to be fixed – I’ll let you know how this works out on Saturday.

We have a game this Saturday night under the lights again against SEI (Self Enhancement Institute), an inner-city team that our boys will play for the first time in their football careers. They bring a lot of talent to the game so it should be a hard-fought battle.

Teaching Descent, Converting New Gamers

My good friend Brian emailed me about a month ago asking about Dungeons and Dragons. His son John started expressing interest in learning the game and Brian wanted some tips and suggestions. Brian had played only once during college 20-25 years ago, and while 4E D&D is relatively easy to learn I think it can be a tough game to bootstrap without a dedicated teacher. I proposed that they come out to Sherwood to join us in a game of Descent. Not quite D&D but a great opportunity to get a feel for this style of game. I also felt this was a game they could pick up on their own and play with 1 or 2 of John’s friends.

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Jacob and Matthew joined us, and we played the intro scenario for what seems like the fourth or fifth time. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever played anything but the first scenario. This is a cakewalk for the heroes but Jacob still managed to die twice, adding some fun to the session. John absolutely loved the concept of adding skills to his character, even going back to town to spend 1,000 coins on a new skill card. This is a good sign he’ll be a big fan of deeper RPGs.

Game 2 Highlights

I promised to post some highlights from our second game against St Helens. We had some great things happen, but if you watch closely you’ll see how a great running back can overcome some mistakes made on the line.

For a play that will blow your mind, skip to the 2:12 spot in the video. Where’s the ball?

Game 2 result: Sherwood 33, St Helens 7

We had a much better showing on offense this week, gaining over 300 yards with a decent mix of passing and running. It was nice having our starting fullback in the lineup – he broke two plays for about 50 and 95 yards for touchdowns in the first half, breaking the game open. We ran a healthy mix of plays, completing two passes for 50 yards but throwing one interception on a missed WR route.

Our defense was solid and we had a lot of non-starters in the lineup in the second half. St Helens wisely ran their wedge play frequently which was about their only successful play. It was tough to stop and we hadn’t drilled technique in practice at all. We were up 33-0 at the time so I didn’t get too worked up about it and I don’t think we’ll see another team this season that will wedge. That said we still had some problems at time with sweep containment so we need to drill that hard this week and even look at some personnel changes in our hawk positions to bolster things. The team we are playing this weekend runs a shotgun spread most of the time so we have a lot of work to do for preparation. They have a talented QB that can run and throw so this will be a good test for our defense.

I’ll post a few game highlight videos shortly.

Game 1 result: Sherwood 16, Aloha Blue 12

Our first game was a grinding victory that found us needing a sustained drive to score with only 6 minutes left in the game. The defense was extremely solid, allowing a net of -27 (yes, that’s MINUS) of Aloha offense for the game and only 2 first downs. Unfortunately a kickoff return for TD and a fumble recovery for TD kept Aloha in the game. The difference ended up being 2 safeties by our defense – one a tackle in the end zone, the other an intentional grounding in the end zone as the QB avoided a sack by on of our linebackers.

The game called out some work we need to do on offense, but after reviewing film it wasn’t as bad as it felt while watching it. We gained just over 200 yards in the game and had two sustained drives (9 plays, 12 plays) that showed a level of consistency that is promising looking ahead. We were also without two of our best players (both running backs) for the game, and our backup FB stepped up big time, rushing for 75 yards and scoring the game winning touchdown.

Some areas to work on:

  • Our linebackers are not filling well on running plays – they are too tentative and flowing left/right instead of downhill into the backfield.

  • We are seeing too much penetration on the interior line as our guards pull. We need to make sure our center/tackles are sealing properly.

  • Our guards are still tentative as they turn upfield on our sweep plays, often looking back for the runner or being indecisive about who to hit. We will drill this heavily during the week.

Our next opponent is St Helens on Saturday Sep 19 at home, under the lights at 7pm.