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By Steve Monninger, Head Coach, Norfolk Academy (VA)

In his spread offensive system, Steve Monniger at Norfolk Academy (VA) never once used a multiple tight end structure as part of his offensive menu. But two games into last season he found himself in the unfamiliar, yet advantageous situation of having two tight ends that can both block and stretch the field vertically. So he completely tweaked his offensive menu to include ten 13 personnel offensive concepts and from week three to week ten he wound up utilizing 13 personnel concepts on 25% of snaps. He details these concepts in his clinic report. Read the report...


By Steve Monninger
Head Coach
Norfolk Academy (VA)



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As we prepared for the 2017 football season, we did not consider ourselves a team that would ever use three tight ends in one offensive set. Our overall identity is that we are a spread offense (using 1 or no TE’s) that utilizes RPOs and focuses on having a high completion percentage. 

After a successful preseason camp and beginning the season with a record of 2-0, we soon found out that our tight ends were better than we thought. Therefore, we decided to install a 13 personnel package that included two formations and still utilized our base plays. From Week 3 to Week 10, our 13 personnel package became a very important part of our offense. During that span of the season, we ran our 13 personnel package for about 25% of our snaps each game. Here are the top reasons why we installed it during the season:

  1. We liked our TE’s. We had confidence in the talent and depth of our TE’s in terms of blocking and receiving. We understood that our X’s and Z’s would be on the bench more, but we still felt it was worthwhile. 
  2. We liked our RB’s. We felt that this package could highlight their skills and their toughness.
  3. Broad Blocking Surfaces. 13 Personnel formations present broad blocking surfaces. If defenses do not adjust, uncovered gaps can be created in the tackle box while at the same time, tight ends and wings can out leverage the flank. 
  4. Defenders are taken out of their “comfort zone.” Since we can switch back and forth between spread sets and 13 personnel sets, our opponents would typically keep their base defense on the field. We felt that this was an advantage for us. Corners like to play in space, but we made them play off a nub TE or Wing. Safeties like to play deep, but we made them move into the box and that would set up play action passes.     
  5. Easy Install. We felt like we could use our base plays using the same principles and rules. For the run game, our OL learned nothing new. For the pass game, our patterns follow a 1, 2, 3 concept. Our TE’s and Wings just had to know their placement within the formation in order to determine their route.
  6. Easy Motions. We love to create matchups using motion. Using our standard rules, it was easy to motion our key players for certain plays. Generally, we use motions in this package to change the strength of the formation or to create a sniffer.  
  7. Usable in Several Gameday Situations. Our 13 Personnel package helped us with important gameday situations including short yardage, 4-minute offense and in the coming out zone. This package was also used to help us sustain a longer drives to give our defense a rest or just eat some clock to keep our opponents electric offense off the field. This fall, time of possession became an ally for us because of using this personnel package.

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  • The formation package that Coach Monniger uses in his 13 personnel grouping.
  • How he’s altered his run game (pin and pull, inside zone and counter) to be utilized from 13 personnel groupings.
  • How he’s altered his pass game (boot, tight end seam, smash, snag and sprint out) to be utilized from 13 personnel groupings.
  • Plus, game film of all these concepts.

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While didn’t invent these plays or formations and the concepts are relatively basic, we think that this provided a great compliment to our base looks. We are proud of the fact that we could seamlessly transition from spread sets to our 13 personnel package even within a single drive.

We did not install this package during spring ball, summer camp or two a days. We installed this package during Week 2 of our football season and we did it without putting in any new plays or new rules. We used our base offense but just put some different players in different spots. I think we would all agree that being simple on offense yet seemingly complex to our opponent’s defense is the ultimate goal. I feel like we were successful in achieving that goal with our 13 personnel package. 

I am honored to share some of what we do with X&O Labs as I have benefitted from so many coaches sharing with me over the years. We are truly blessed to coach the greatest team sport in the world.            


Meet Coach Monninger: A native of Westfield, New Jersey, Coach Monninger spent much of his coaching career at his alma mater, Middlebury College in Vermont.  During his 13 year tenure at Middlebury, Coach Monninger’s coaching role changed several times as he coached the offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs while serving as Defensive Coordinator for his last 6 seasons.  In 2011, Coach Monninger left the college ranks to take the Head Coaching role at Norfolk Academy in Virginia.  Coach Monninger inherited a team that was winless in the season prior to his arrival.  Over the past 7 years, Norfolk Academy’s overall record has improved to 40-30 while winning 8 games and a conference championship this fall.  More important than any record or accolade, Coach Monninger is honored to use football as a platform to mold the character of young men in an academically rigorous setting.  



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