By Jerald Pierucci
Head Football Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Shafter High School (CA)
The hitch/9, 9/hitch and Hitch/Hitch concepts are staples for nearly all passing offenses. We have recently combined these two concepts into one play call giving your offense the capability to hit the homerun ball and take the five-yard hitch without a check at the lines or coaches checks from the sideline. This is a concept that can be installed in one practice period, and ran at any time on the field.
Necessity for Flexibility
Being a tempo/no huddle team. The ability to be flexible in play design (not complicated) is critical for us to play fast and have success on offense. With defenses becoming more flexible in coverages, we found ourselves relying more on “check with me” calls. While we are not against using “check with me’s,” the slow down allows defenses to change coverage while you are trying to change your offensive call.
A concept we use a lot is the Hitch/9, 9/hitch and all hitches. Each one is good against certain coverages, but can be taken away against others. As a play caller, I found myself calling an all hitches and a defense would align in 4 across all sitting at 5 yards, or other times calling 9/hitch and the defense aligned in Coverage 3. Over time, I felt that it was more about getting lucky on having the right call at the right time.
For that reason, we started using check with me and sideline checks to get into the right play. This was successful at first and we were able adjust to what the defense was aligned too. We continued this until we came against a team that stemmed alignment every time we checked.
This last set back, made us really look at the play and decide to make it a pre-snap option that would put the decision the hands of the defense. We let their alignment dictate the route that will be ran. This is ultimately what allows this play to be successful. No matter what alignment or coverage the defense is in, we had an answer.
Necessity for Simplicity
When I started toying with the idea of putting a hitch/9 option route concept together, I started looking at the post snap option routes that were out there. After messing around with it at practice, it was obvious to me that at the high school level the post snap option was not a good option for our program. It was too complicated, and the time commitment to it was too great and the payout was too small.