By David Moskowitz
James O’Neill High School (NY)
It is a great honor to have the opportunity to contribute something that might be helpful to other coaches. So many coaches have been so giving and patient to me. That is what makes this such a great profession.
I am writing about our RPO off of Inside Zone. I got the head coaching job at James O’Neill High School two weeks before the season started in 2019. O’Neill is the school that serves the West Point community; working with these great kids is a blessing. I have been an I coach my entire career and installed that system when I started. We struggled to a 3-6 record, as the system was not an ideal fit for the players that I had. Midway through the 2019 season we put in some spread elements to combine with the I. I worked in elements of what I knew best, with the spread, that featured the quarterback as a runner. We moved the ball better in both the I and spread but I knew that I needed to change to what fit our players best. In the long offseason of 2019-2020 I studied the spread system: many thanks to Coach West of the Army Sprint football team and Coach Drinkall, the tight ends coach at West Point. We played a 6 game schedule in the spring of 2021 and a full schedule in the fall. We won 14 of those 16 games, winning 2 sectional titles and reaching the state regional finals in the fall.
The centerpiece of the offense is the Inside Zone with a pre-snap RPO. All of our runs between the tackles have pre-snap RPOs. We count the defense from outside in. If we have an advantage on the outside we automatically throw the ball. This will be done to the 3 receiver side, 2 receiver side or 1 receiver side. Any defender that is 8 yards or more off our receivers is not counted, he is not considered a threat. Our quick passing game and downfield passing game have been dynamic, allowing us to get some of those favorable looks. We are content to take the 4-5 yard gain that we are being given and believe that with our athletes on the outside several times per game we will break those off into big gains, or even touchdowns. Our tailbacks from the previous year were the 2 slot players in our spring season. One was 6’3 210 lbs. and the other was our best all-around football player. This fall we played with 2 of our fastest kids as the slot players. We distribute the ball to all of our positions; knowing that they will get touches has made our kids embrace blocking.