cs icon 70



By Chris Endress, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary, Seneca High School (MO)

RPOs are built to attack the problems in standard trips formation coverages. See how coach Endress has adapted him Lion Coverage to attack trips and confuse QBs. Find out here...


By Chris Endress
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary
Seneca High School (MO)
Twitter: @ChrisEndress1



Insiders Members: Login here to access the full-length version of this report. 




Trips presented us an issue a couple seasons ago because our weak safety was tied into #3 strong for vertical routes (Solo coverage). That left him out of place in his run fits to the weak side and got us in trouble. With the rise of more power read and speed/lead option to the weak side, we needed an answer that kept our Willie (weak safety) to the weak side while still be sound against trips routes. Lion coverage was that answer. It is a quarters based coverage to trips where we will use two deep defenders versus a possible threat vertical threat while remaining solid in perimeter run defense on both sides of the offense.

What is Lion Coverage?

At its core, lion is a split cover concept used against trips formations. It resembles a ¼, ¼ look with two deep defenders. It also has an overhang player responsible flats and force on run and a linebacker expanding under the hook/curl zone and collisioning and carrying the first incut threat.  All the secondary players except for the PSLB are keying #3 to the trips side for keys and assignments post-snap.

Overhang Player: Base Key, Alignment, and Assignment

The base assignment for our overhang player in 2x2 looks is to be force on run and work under #1 on pass read (Drop 1 in our language). He will then pick up any final #3 from the backfield or the other side of the formation. We try to keep our key, alignment, and assignment the same in our base coverages as often as possible for simplicity of teaching and because techniques and fundamentals overlap.

The overhang player aligns 1 yard inside by 5 yards off the #2 receiver.  We base the 5 yards depth from the LOS if #2 is a slot receiver. He keys the #3 receiver for his run/pass key.  We teach the following different actions from #3:

  • Vertical release
  • Outside release
  • Inside release
  • Outside run block (arc)
  • Scoop block


We designate any route where #3 is at a depth even with the starting depth of the overhang as a vertical release. That has made teaching a lot easier for overhangs to identify vertical routes.

Continue to the full-length version of this report…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report—including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:

  • The responsibilities of the overhang defender against the following scenarios: vertical release, outside release, inside release, outside run block and scoop block.
  • The responsibilities of the free safety against the following scenarios: vertical release, outside release, inside release, outside run block and scoop block.
  • The responsibilities of the strong corner against the following scenarios: vertical release, outside release, inside release, outside run block and scoop block.
  • The cone drill teaching progression that Coach Endress uses to teach underneath defenders in Lion coverage.
  • Variations in defending Trey formations, bunch formations, unbalanced formations and motion.
  • Plus game film on this concept.

Join the Insiders today and get your FREE book(s)!

Get Started Here!


Lion is a great coverage for us that allows us to be sound against most route combinations, make us solid in our run fits while keeping majority of our base coverage reads and rules intact. I believe it is very important to drill the different reads and fundamentals separately and then put them together in a pass Skelly half-line situation before using this with the full team. I have found that keeping the reads, keys, and reactions simple and consistent allows the secondary to play fast and with confidence whenever a team gives us trips looks. I want to thank X&O labs for the opportunity to write this report.

Meet Coach Endress: Coach Endress has recently completed his 20th year or coaching. He just finished his first season as the co-defensive coordinator at Seneca High School (MO) where he was in charge of the secondary. During that time, he has been a head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and special teams coach. Endress has been part of three state championship teams in Kansas.



Insiders Members Login Here To Access Full Length Reports and Videos