If executing correctly, it can be the great equalizer for mismatched personnel. Opponents averaged 2.1 yards per return against it last season; 8 of which were for one yard or less.
By Gabriel Ostrander
Elmwood Park High School (IL)
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When I became the Special Teams Coordinator I looked at our previous Special Teams packages and our current roster. At Elmwood Park, we generally are not blessed with college athletes or speed and power combination kids. We either have kids that can run and play in space or kids that are physical but don't move well. After doing research I found the system that I felt would best fit our kids, the Shield Punt. I chose this scheme for 3 essential reasons:
- Simple blocking assignments that don’t require size or skill.
- 7 immediate cover players to help eliminate 1 on 1 open field tackling.
- How do teams line-up to it and pressure?
Alignment is fairly simple; the front line involves 7 players in a straight line on the LOS. Players on the left side are labeled from inside to outside L1, L2, L3 players on the right side are labeled inside to outside R1, R2, R3. R1/L1 fit 2 feet away from the long snapper. The rest have 3 foot splits away from the player next to them. We tighten down the L1/R1 splits in order to help with inside pressure as our long snapper immediately releases downfield.
The Shield lines up toes at 8yds. S1 lines up with his right foot even with the left foot of the long snapper. S2 lines up with his left foot even with the right foot of the long snapper. S3 has a 6inch split from S2.
The Punter lines up in the gap created by the shield and directly behind the long snapper with his heels at 13yds.
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- Coverage responsibilities of the front seven defenders and the shield protectors.
- The “Catch, Snap, Punt” technique taught to the punter.
- Coaching points and film of the “Lateral Block Drill” used by front line defenders in the shield punt scheme.
- Coaching points and film of the “Scallop Breakdown Technique,” used for coverage defenders in the shield punt scheme.
- Coaching points and the film of the “Leverage Drill,” used to teach open field tackling in the shield punt scheme.
- Plus, game film of this concept.
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We went to this system because we felt it was the best fit for our personnel. We found with a simple technique and allowing our athletes to be athletes we were able to limit return yards which in-turn helped us flip the field. That being said, we install our shield as our first Special Teams install at the beginning of the season as we feel it is the most important Special Teams unit. This has helped us learn the technique and be more effective right away in the season.
Meet Coach Ostrander: Coach Ostrander has been coaching football for eight years, seven of which have been at Elmwood Park High School serving as the Special Teams coordinator for four years and the defensive coordinator for one. During that time, EPHS has won two conference titles and qualified for the IHSA State playoffs three times which has doubled their previous appearances.