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By Rich Hargitt, Offensive Coordinator, Emmett High School (ID)

At Emmett High School, they are a base Spread offense with Air Raid inspirations that features a large number of RPOs. They run these plays from a fast tempo and feature, on average, about 10-15 formational adjustments per game.

By Rich Hargitt
Offensive Coordinator
Emmett High School (ID)
Twitter: @S2ASystem



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At Emmett High School we are a base Spread Offense with Air Raid inspirations that features a large number of RPOs.  We run these plays from a fast tempo and feature, on average, about 10-15 formational adjustments per game.  The heavy reliance on RPOs has caused us to make the decision to re-implement more of our Air Raid roots into our passing offense this next season.  At the time of this writing, we are currently the #1 ranked passing offense in the state of Idaho by attempts, completions, yards passing per game, and overall passing yardage in a season.  These calls have and will allow us to create a false narrative for the defense by which they are not sure whether the play will be an RPO or a more down the field passing concept.  The name of our consulting group is the Surface To Air System but when we refer to our Air Raid twists in the drop back game we call it the S.T.A.R. Package (Surface To Air Raid).  There are four major Air Raid concepts that we have diversified and synthesized with our own unique twists and incorporated into our S2A System.  These concepts have been altered but still, contain heavy doses of Air Raid DNA.  The four major drop back concepts that we brought over are the 4 Verticals, Y-Cross, Shallow Cross, and the Mesh.


4 Verticals

The 4 Verticals or 4 Verts play has long been a staple of our system.  We feel that this play is the ultimate constraint play in order to keep defenses honest.  Most defenses are able to rotate coverages and bring exotic blitzes only to the extent that they are able to defend the back half of their coverage.  In short, they will do exotic things if they don’t get beat deep.  Therefore, the 4 verts play is pivotal in keeping defenses honest.  The play can be featured from a 2x2 or a 3x1 structure.  If 4 verticals are executed from a 2x2 set the outside receivers will execute Fade or Takeoff Routes, the slot receivers will execute Bender Routes, and the running back will execute a Shoot Route.

Diagram 1


The Fade Routes must turn the corner’s hips and prevent him from playing any sort of Read 2 type of coverage family.  The slot receivers will outside release off the ball and execute a 5 or 7 step release based upon the OLB’s alignment and defense.  If the coverage remains MOF closed, then the slots will both work vertically. If, however, the coverage is a MOF open family they will defeat the OLB and then bend to grass under the safety into what we call the Bermuda Triangle. 



A long-held personal favorite in the Air Raid world and an essential transfer over to our S2A System S.TA.R. repertoire is the Y-Cross Concept.  This concept is so ubiquitous across the football spectrum today because it is so pliable.  This article simply cannot cover all the alterations or Tags that we utilize but this play is very malleable and solves many problems for us in the S2A System.

In a 2x2 structure, we would feature a Fade Route by the playside #1 receiver and a fast release Bubble Route by the #2 receiver.  We have altered and played with the route by #2 over the years but next year will feature the Bubble Route because of some groundbreaking RPO variations we intend to roll out in our system in 2019.  The back side #1 receiver will execute a Post Curl Route and the slot receiver will execute the USOM (Under Same Over Mike) Route that has been chronicled by other Air Raid coaches.  We have elected to send the running back on a Shoot Route to the weak side of the formation.


Shallow Cross

Another Air Raid staple has long been the Shallow Cross Concept.  We have sprinkled our own twists on this play in the S2A System but have kept many of the basic tenants of the play intact.  When executed from a 2x2 formation, the playside #1 receiver will execute a Glance Post and is told to keep the route skinny behind any hash safety.  The playside #2 receiver will execute a seven-step Dig Route and square cut out of his break and try to remain on a parallel path to the line of scrimmage.  We do not let him settle in any holes but do encourage him to throttle down if he finds himself working into wide open grass.  The back side #1 receiver runs a ten-step Comeback Route while the #2 receiver runs the Shallow Cross Route through the heels of the defensive lineman.  We do not allow the slot receiver to gain any ground upfield until he clears the ball.  The running back will execute a Shoot Route towards the original alignment of the Shallow Cross Route runner.

Diagram 5



No conversation of the Air Raid and its modifications into the Surface To Air System would be complete without a discussion of the Mesh Concept.  A major variation of the Mesh Concept for us is that we allow the play side #1 receiver to execute a read route.  This route calls for a six-step vertical release and then a decision based upon the coverage.  If the corner bails he will execute an Out Route at six steps but if the corner plays tight coverage our receiver will convert the route to a Corner Route.  The playside #2 and backside #1 receivers will then execute the Mesh over the ball and in front of the MLB.  The running back will run the Shoot Route strong and the H receiver will execute the Shoot Route weak.

Diagram 7



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  • How receivers are taught to bend to grass into the “Bermuda Triangle” in four vertical concepts.
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  • How Coach Hargitt altered the read progression in hjs shallow cross concept to clean up the read for the quarterback.
  • How crossers are taught to alter their routes vs. man and zone coverage respectively in the mesh concept.
  • Plus, game film on these concepts.


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Meet Coach Hargitt: I grew up in Central Illinois and started my head coaching journey not far from Iowa Wesleyan College where Hal Mumme and Mike Leach helped launch a groundbreaking revolution in the game of football.  The remnants of their legacy were still felt in that area and I got hooked on building and refining what they had done and incorporating it into my own offense.  When we started building our own Air Raid program we were the only school on our schedule in the shotgun and the only one that wanted to throw the ball as a major means of their style of attack.  Now, many years later I see almost everyone from high school to the NFL featuring part of the Air Raid attack.  I have synthesized and adapted what the Air Raid taught me and taken it into the world of RPOs and now consult both nationally and internationally on an Air Raid influenced RPO style of attack that we have named the Surface To Air System.  We wish to keep the philosophy of throwing the ball but also marry it with run schemes and meld as much pass into the run as possible to create a balanced system of attack that is hard to stop and easy for us to execute.  We are continuously attempting to evolve and grow and think outside the box.  These four previously discussed concepts are not all the Air Raid influence we have but they are a major part of what we do.  We plan to continue to refine and augment what we learned from the Air Raid and take it in new and exciting directions in the future.  Visit us at www.surfacetoairsystem.com or email me at [email protected] to join the system or to gain more insight into our system. 





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