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By Stephen Rice Head Coach Richton High School (MS)

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Editor’s Note: Coach Rice is entering his fourth season as head coach at Richton High School. Richton is currently coming off an 8-4 season, which was its first winning season since before 2004. Coach Rice had completed a five game swing from last season, when Richton finished 3-8.

We are a run first pass second concept team. We run the ball almost twice as much as we pass it yet we do throw it enough to keep teams honest. We run the spread formation with a Nasty Slot or H-Back. I feel this gives us a chance to spread people out but at the same time gives us an extra blocker in the Box. Most nights we are playing teams that have better athletes when we step on the field, but believe this formation gives us the best chance to be competitive. We use multiple shifts and motions to try and gain an edge.

Like most spread teams we use the inside and outside zone as our base run plays. As with most of us, the simplicity of running the zone and the lanes created by being in the spread formation are very conducive for us. The key for us is the H-Back. Most times this kid would be a fullback in traditional offense such as the I or Wing. He must be physical at the point of contact, but also must be able to move because he will be pulling and used in our play action and passing game.

H-Back Lead Zone

This is a basic zone concept but we use the H-Back to Zone up on the play side Linebacker We have two foot splits and our H-Back lines up splitting the stance of the Guard and Tackle. On the snap of the ball he leads up into the play side gap to the first second level linebacker that shows up. Our offensive linemen block the normal and traditional zone concept. They are responsible for the gap to the play side.

H-Back Zone Kick

Most teams use the QB or a receiver in motion to hold the backside end in the zone concept in order to give the RB a cut back lane. We like to use the H-Back pulling down the line to kick the back side Defensive End to give us our cut back lane. We run many counters and traps using the H-Back and this gives us another wrinkle in blocking the zone. This motion helps keep the defense honest in our opinion for always keying on zone to H-back.

Again, we want the RB to read the zone and find the best gap to run thru but feel like most times he should be able to get a good cut back read.

Read the Full-Length Version of Coach Rice's Report - Including Detailed Diagrams and Player Assignments on the H-Back in Zone Schemes. Click Here!

Inside Zone Away From H-Back

This is a continuance of the above concept but with a little different winkle. We can set the H-Back away from the directions we are zoning and he is still responsible for the back side Defensive End to give us the cut back lane. This creates an immediate cut back lane almost all of the time and is good when you have defensive ends crashing down hard trying to take away the zone. This also keeps teams from keying zone to the H-Back side.


Most may say this is simple football and we are certainly not recreating the wheel but by placing the H-back in the position we do it gives us a chance to run the inside zone with variations. It also is the basis for the rest of our offense based on pulls and zone concepts. It allows us to pull him in our counter and trap plays. He can also help us secure the edge in our perimeter game and is a key part in our screen and play action packages. We can also use him in our pass protections and routes. The H-Back is a vital part of our offense.

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