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Coaching Youth Football reader success stories, Part 2

Dear John,

I wanted to send this email to personally thank you. Because of your publications I went from rookie coach to county champion and undefeated in 3 years.
Three years ago I was approached by a close friend of mine to take over as offensive coordinator for his son's 5th & 6th grade team. I accepted without a second thought, until a few days later when I realized I didn't know as much about coaching youth football as I thought I did. I immediately started internet searching mainly looking at the Wishbone and "T" formations when I stumbled across an article in which you were commenting of the effectiveness of certain plays. The more I read the more interested I became. I purchased your single wing book and talked to the head coach about his thoughts. He said to run with it. I had a parent approach me early in the year to question using the single wing saying it hasn't worked since the thirties. His son scored 33 touchdowns from the tailback position that year, I never heard anything else from this father.
The first season was not bad we were 8 - 5 and were competitive in every game. The biggest compliment we received was from a head coach that said they knew exactly what we were going to do but just couldn't stop it.
In year two we had to start over with new guys and we had growing pains at first, but when we got everyone to believe in the system everything came together, we finished the year 11 - 2, our single wing averaged 27 points a game.
Year three we finally had 12 returning players in our system and it was off to the races. We had a tailback with 3.4sec speed in the 20-yard dash and 2 blocking backs that loved contact. This was the first year of a combined county league. We saw every type of defense you could imagine and were able to exploit it using only 5 plays all year long. Most teams stacked up to stop the outside rush so we just ran the wedge and off tackle until they pulled it in, once they did that, it was over. Our team was the smallest team in the league, sometimes being outweighed by over 1,000 pounds, we averaged 22.5ppg on offense, and our defense yielded 5.5ppg. We went 11 - 0 and won the first Caldwell County Youth Football League Championship.
My point is this: I have most of your books, we have incorporated your system 100%, we focus more on conditioning than hitting, and teaching the basics. I cannot think of ANY better investment for the youth football coach. Several of the smaller teams are copying our style. The high school coaches have praised us and the refs have admired the effectiveness of the no huddle, silent offense saying very few teams can accomplish this without numerous penalties.
Again I want to thank you for helping us achieve this goal.
Steve Phillips, Granite Falls, NC
You do have permission to reprint this email.
Steve Phillips


You gave me some great tips last year and I have enjoyed your books. They've been one of my primary sources on coaching over the last two years. I wanted to send you a quick story related to your Crunch Series article.

This is my second year coaching youth football. We ran a variation of your GAM defense and a Split Back Veer offense. Both systems very simple and effective. We finished the regular season at 8-1 in a 3-way tie for first place. We had to go to a Kansas City Tie Breaker (ball on the 10, double elimination) last night to decide the conference champion. In order to have a twist for two teams we had already played (one which had beaten us) we installed the crunch formation and three plays out of it (crunch right, crunch left and crunch counter) about an hour before the scrimmage. We practiced lining up and running the play a couple times on the soccer field next to the football field and ran it live for the first time in the scrimmage. We took to the line of scrimmage in our normal Split-Back formation, then shifted quickly on the QB's first sound, got set, then direct-snapped the ball to our best athlete who rumbled for about 7 yards. We called the same play again... the opposing coach burned his ONLY TIME OUT (you only get one per round in the tie-breakers). He coached his team to shift and line-up balanced over us when we shifted. The next play we ran the counter, which worked like a charm vs. their shift. We scored on that play. We ended up winning the tie-breaker and clinching the division title. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP ONCE MORE!

Scott P. Armatti


Just an update, The mimosa mustangs are 6-0 thanks in large part to your philosophy on coaching youth football. We have won all of our games by a combined score of 139 to 25. We run your version of the 8-2-1 defense and have shut out 3 opponents this year and have only allowed four touchdowns all season in 24 quarters of play, and have held 3 of our 6 opponents to 0 or negative yardage for the game. The most yards we have given up in one game is 98 yards. We also run your warp speed no huddle. With that we have achieved a dominant 4 to 1 play differential, average 40 plays a game compared to our oppoents running 15 offensive plays a game. They can't score if they don't have the ball. Our football team has had drives of 15, 8 and 10 plays several times this season. I have never seen a youth team sustain a 15 play drive ever, until this year, thanks to the warp speed no huddle. Also, we run the single wing offense, and have owned not only time of possesion but yardage wise we avearage 250 to 300 rushing a game. Now, we do have some pretty good talent, but if we were running the I formation or the wishbone or any other conventional offense, I doubt we would put up those kinds of numbers. We have had 8 different players score touchdowns this season. Furthomore, what has contributed to our time of possesion dominance and our offensive play dominance is the fact that we kick on sides every time, and for the season we have recovered 62% of our on sides kicks. We recovered 6 out of 6 on sides kicks in one game this season and recover at least two a game. The funny thing is, we don't even get cute with it. We don't care if the opponent knows where we are kicking it, we pretty much tell them where we are kicking it, and they still can't stop it! The ball bounces really funny when it isn't perfectly round, and this approach is just devestating to the opposition. We have seen as much as 10 guys on the front line of the return team and still recovered the kick. More defensive notes, we have had 32 pass attempts against us this season, they have completed two, and we have intercepted 9. The rest have fallen to the turf for an incompletion, due to the 8-2-1 man to man pass coverage. Just wanted to thank you for your books! I see that you have a book on coaching youth baseball, I can't wait to buy that in the coming months, maybe santa will bring it to me for christmas! Thanks again Jack, you’re a youth football genius!

Kristian Garic

Coach Reed

I purchased your books on the single wing offense, youth defense and GAM 3 seasons ago. I would like to provide this third installment to my yearly updates. We just finished our 2007 season with a 7-1 record. Although we did not pile up the points like we did last year, we were still effective. I must add that we did move up a division this year and faced much better competition. I coached 8-9 yr olds the first two years and this year we had the 10-11 yr olds. We averaged over 20pts per game with a season high of 48, and did so using only 4-5 plays from a playbook of 12 in each contest. The wedge was a consistent gainer but it did not go for big yardage but 2-3 times. The off tackle was our bread and butter and most of our points came from it. The wing reverse was only effective when defenses shifted somewhat to our unbalanced line. At times we shifted to a balanced line and ran the off tackle to either side. The first time we did this, the play went for 40 yards or so and a TD. We were also able to pass a little more using the sprint pass and a flanker streak. However; I switched the run sprint pass receiver most of the time. The long end and WB would run this route or the flanker would run a Q route. The main reason for this was the BB's inability to get out in the flats fast enough. We threw for touchdowns and extra points and a few 3rd down conversions. I did tweak your version of the single wing occasionally to spread the defense and then ran the wedge and a TB dive with consistent success against defenses that stacked the line of scrimmage to stop our power running plays. One of the greatest aspects of the single wing is BALL CONTROL. The other team cannot score without the ball. Most of our scoring drives were at least 5-6 plays and several were more than 11 plays. I plan on passing a little more next year and maybe doing some more tweaking, but the information in your books have been outstanding and everything that we have done has been a direct result of the principles and tactics that you have taught me through them.

Defensively we were OUTSTANDING with the GAM. Of our seven wins, 5 of them were shut outs and most of the teams we played ended up with negative yardage. The only difficulty we had was with a team that ran a spread offense. They were not able to effectively throw against us but we did give up chunks of yardage when we really needed a defensive stop. I must admit that part of the problem with this particular game was too much coaching the week prior - that will never happen again. Teach them their responsibilities, line em up and let em play. All but one of the teams that we played did not even come close to being able to handle the pressure that our boys applied play after play. Disciplined Defensive ends, aggressive linebackers, athletic corners and MLB/safety and tenacious lineman are too much for almost any offense to overcome.

Over the past 3 seasons, I have built our teams around our defense and relied on the tried and proven single wing to propel us to victory. These systems are easy to teach, troubleshoot and the kids love it. Our teams have a 21-3 record which includes 1 undefeated championship season and two second place finishes.

Thanks for your contribution to our football success!

Coach Al Johnson


Some positive feedback for your tackling drill.  A friend of mine is using your book in coaching his son's 5th grade team.  He said he's never had a tackling drill that worked so well as yours.  The boys actually stayed within the four cones,  maintained half speed until impact, kept their head in the right place and followed through. He was just giddy telling me about it this morning. My buddy (coworker) is a former Mankato State football player--one of the MN state colleges.  He's a teddy bear of a guy.  Loves coaching Youth Football.

I checked out your website this morning after a long hiatus.  Your book on Freshman and JV football looks intriguing. 

If this is at all like your Youth Book, it should be mandatory reading for Freshman and JV coaches. 

Keep up the good work Jack. 

Rick Groomes, Mpls. MN

Coach Reed,

I just wanted to thank you for your influence on my success as a youth football coach. I coach the 9-10 team in a rural community in South Carolina. Before we took over, this team was the perennial doormat of the league, and the designated "W" on everyone's schedule. Now, thanks to Coaching Youth Football, three seasons later, we are one of the most feared teams in the league. Last season we finished 10-1 and lost in the league semifinals game in double overtime. This season, we're off to another great start (6-0). We run the tight, 0 line splits double wing and the single wing. Defensively, we run your GAP-Air-Mirror defense. We have four shutouts thus far.

Last week we played a very talented team that had our double and single wing scouted and defended well. We were down 6-0 in the 4th quarter, then we unleashed the "Crunch" package with a direct snap. We marched right down the field and scored easily! We secured the extra point, and won 7-6. It amazed me how the other team NEVER adjusted to our unbalanced line, with all of our backs lined up behind them. We had a 7-3 advantage at the point of attack!

I am amused at how the coaches scramble to stop the on sides kick. Many burn timeouts or spend the entire half-time period trying to stop it. LOL! Once again thank you, for all you've done for youth football coaching. Your book has been a godsend for me, and most importantly has given some pride and self-esteem back to a small community that WAS conditioned to being the laughing stock to the other teams we play with a much larger population.

Sanford Williams, Honea Path, SC

Jack, we talked about 10 years ago, My dad and I were coaching a youth football team in Radcliff Kentucky. We have read all of your books, and currently implement your 8-2-1 defense. We are currently coaching together in New Orleans La, and are 3-0, and are allowing on average 4 points a game through three games on defense, and curently we average right around 30 points a game on offense, with the single wing. I just wanted to catch up with you, and let you know you have had a huge impact on my coaching philosophy, we basically have copied everything that you do, with good success! By the Way we have recovered 5 out out 9 onside kicks!! Everyone around the league asks me "Why do you kick onsides so much?"...I feel like saying, are you watching? If you watch our game you will see why!! 5 out of 9!

Kristian Garic


We had our opening game this past weekend with 7 – 9 year old Mighty Might team. We have implemented your GAM defense which produced a shutout. Our defense only allowed 1 first down in which a 2nd team DE and CB lost contain. It resulted in a 15-yard sweep. They had a little success up the middle due to the fact that I found out at half time that we are not allowed to have a Nose Guard or anyone in the A gaps. This week I will work with my linemen to Pinch into the gap and stop them. Or MLB did a great job only allowing 1 to 3 yard gains even with little support from the guards.

[Our double wing offense] scored 25 points with 196 yards in 25 plays.

This is my first year at coaching a tackle team. The past 3 years I spent coaching flag which was only a baby step to added complexities of tackle. I only received your books GAM and Coaching Youth Football a couple of days before the season so I had to read fast and work on implementing you system quickly and so far working great. I have already found more that I need to improve on as a coach and being efficient during practices. But the parts that I have been able to implement have put us ahead of other teams this year.


Bo Gibson
Head Coach East Fairmont Rockets – Mighty-Might Division


I purchased your football books a couple of years ago, and just purchased your clock management book today. I have been an assistant coach for the last four years, and this year the head coach left and I took over the head coach position. I have implemented your system (single-wing and gap-air-mirror) and your approach fits my style. We are 2-0 and have outscored our opponents 89 to 7. The 6 was scored on us on offense on the sprint-out run pass (the ball hit our receiver in the face mask and bounced up and the defender ran it back for 6). So I wanted to give you some good feedback, great advice, and wanted to ask you a question. Your books are the best. I think I have all of your sports related books and you have done a great job. FYI – the last two teams I coached after reading your books on Football and Baseball won their league championships.

David M. Guida

Your books are the best. I think I have all of your sports related books and you have done a great job. FYI – the last two teams I coached after reading your books on Football and Baseball won their league championships.

Larry A. Pankey
Atlanta, GA

Hi John:

I want to thank you for your web-page. I am a second year defensive coach and have been given the task of looking after the DB's for our team. I must let you know that I am e-mailing you from Canada and judging by your experience as a coach you must have some knowledge of the Canadian game. If not then here are a couple of things you should know:

- there are 12 men per side on the field.
- our field is much wider (~ 15-20 yrds I do believe) than yours.
- we are allowed to have more than one man in motion at the line.
- we only have 3 downs therefore we throw much more.

These few factors alone make it much more tougher for a defence to cover the field. I just wish to say that I love your philosophy with regards to zone defence and the futility of teaching it to youth. I am coaching minor-bantam players (13-year olds) and I was originally doing what you stated not to. I tried teaching them all sorts of backpedaling drills and the like as well as zone pass coverageand got away from the meat and potatoes of good fundamental football, like proper tackling form. We have now switched back to straight man and concentrate our practice time on learning our basic assignments and stickingto them. Again thanks for simplifying my approach and putting me on the right track. Although your rules are different in the U.S., youth football players are the same all over with regards to learning.


John Quagleini
North Winnipeg Nomads Football Club
Winnipeg, Manitoba

I am in the middle of re-reading each of your football books (for the third time by the way) this off season. I wanted to say “thank you” one more time. You absolutely saved me as a clueless rookie coach and last year, my 2nd season as a coach; our 3rd and 4th grade team went 12-0 (10-0 officially since a couple were pre-season scrimmages we set up as coaches) easily winning the championship. The team we beat in the championship had not lost in the previous 3 seasons and had averaged over 35 points a game all year. We shut their offense out and scored 4 touchdowns of our own. In a very competitive league, 7 of our 10 games the “mercy rule” went into effect. My minimum play players (we had a very large roster, so I have a bunch of them) were able to see as much or more game time than my starters because of that. That made us heroes to the parents of the younger kids. Needless to say, we had a blast and we can’t wait for the 2007 season to begin.

Thanks again,

Coach Thayne Harrison

Coach Reed

I just wanted to give you an update on our latest Single Wing Success. Last year I put the Single Wing offense and 8-2-1 defense to work as a rookie youth football coach. We went 6-2, finishing 3rd in the division. We averaged 30+ points per game while only allowing 6.

This year my policy was: "If it aint broke don't fix it." The only thing I had to change was emphasizing the snapper position more. Last year we had many problems with the direct snap, but not this year. I was able to add a few wrinkles to the offense to exploit what defenses were trying to do to stop us, but the formation worked like a charm. It was POWER running all season and a stingy defense that led us to an 8-0 record and the league championship. We scored on every running play in the playbook and even had some success passing the ball. Our boys had a blast this year and our coaching staff is thrilled. There is one high school in our area that runs the single wing, but other than that, we are the only ones. I love it when teams line up against us in a T formation or I formation. Our defense just pins their ears back and ATTACK with a vengeance. If anyone thinks that the 8-2-1 defense is weak against the pass - FORGET IT!! We had a few completions against us for small gains, but we intercepted several and even ran some of the picks back for touchdowns. [Reed note: I now recommendmy GAM defense over my 8-2-1 which was my first 1992 defense. The GAM is my new much improved version.]

I really appreciate your coaching books. I recommend them to any coach that wants to keep it simple and WIN. Of course that doesn't go for anyone that may play us...

Coach Al Johnson

Mr. Reed,
Just finished a 9-0 regular season and am headed into the playoffs using your modified single wing offense and gap air mirror defense. Last year I went 8-1 using the same systems, but they get better as I get to know them more and learn to innovate. People think I'm a football genius.
I know I'm just smart enough to know I need help and to find where to get it. Great work on your books!

[subsequent email] It got better. We won the league championship with a record of 12-0. The single wing offense averaged 34 points per game, even given a rule that we switch out the starting backfield when ahead by 24. The gap air mirror defense held our opponents to an average of 7 points per game. In the championship game, our blocking back (my son) broke his arm and couldn't throw. However, we had scouted the opponent's 4-4 defense and every player knew who to block for the off tackle, so we easily ground out an 18-8 victory on the ground. The kids are close knit and confident, and all of them are going on to try to play the best sport in the world in high school. I'm particularly gratified because last year, when our team went 8-1, I tried telling the other coaches that my offense didn't have a quarterback, and they laughed at me. Now they're asking me for advice.

Thanks for your help.

John Phelan

Mr Reed,

I had the pleasure of coaching a 5-7 year old (90 pounds max) tackle football team this year. This is the first year we have offered tackle football for kids this age, so I was starting from scratch. This also was my fist go a coaching tackle football. You can tell by the uniforms that I am a huge Penn State fan!

I read your book at least 3 times and ran the Single Wing offense. I had 27 kids on the team (more than any other team) and each kid had to play 7 plays. We were also the only team with 5 year olds (8). Here is our team and record:

I spent the first 3 weeks of practice conditioning, teaching stances then teaching proper blocking and tackling technique. I used a mattress as you suggested in your book to break them in. It worked great. I also used what was called “FIT” drills. We taught them how to wrap up on a stationary team mate. We did this for every kid numerous times. That really paid off; for the most part we tackled very well. The defense was limited by league rules. You could not line up on the snapper. You had to have 6 on the line and you could not blitz the linebackers inside those six.

The last week before our first scrimmage (Jamboree) I put in the offense and defense. I only had 3 plays in before our first scrimmage(s).

Off Tackle
Wing reverse.

In our league, the defense was not allowed to line up on the snapper, so I didn’t run the wedge very often. I was too easy to gain 5 yards, I felt like I was cheating. We executed the Off Tackle and the Wing reverse incredibly well. All the practice we put in teaching them how to block really paid off. Once they got over “those guys on the other side really want to tackle us,” no one could stop us, we seemed to score at will. I think our team was more prepared than most, so we had the edge early. Running the same formation for all the plays really enabled us to get a lot of plays in as well. It killed me sometimes that it would take opposing coaches 2 minutes to get a play in. At this level each team was allowed to have 2 coaches on the field. I could get off a play in 20 seconds with no problem at all. One formation at this age was definitely a plus.

We had one more week before our first regulation game and I added the Sweep and a little twist to the off tackle play. I called it “One Left.” “One” was the Off Tackle play. All I did was take advantage of the defenses overloading the right side of the formation and had the BB block to the left (hit the first guy you get to) and the tailback run straight up off his block just to the left of the SE. It was a quick hitter and we always got at least 5 yards and we also score a couple touchdowns with that little twist.
I also practice passing to the flanker (Hitch Pass) if he wasn’t covered. I only allowed that when I had my stud out there, the minimum play kids could not catch.

I used the flanker as the “minimum play” position as you recommended so the Sweep was not very effective. It was very effective when I put a stud out at flanker. Many times 20+ yards. I also played small guys (50 lbs) at the Short Guard, Long Guard and Inside Tackle positions to help the defense out. Only a couple times during the season did the LG and IT get over powered, they were good enough to hold their blocks long enough for the play to get past them.

As the season progressed, I added a couple more plays.

Sprint-out run-pass
All Hook pass
Buck Lateral run pass.

We did not execute the sprint-out run-pass very well. I’ll take the hit on that one. I had a left handed TB and we ran the offense from the right formation all year. It was hard for him to get set and make a good throw. We tried it a couple times though, just to keep the defense “honest”. I had to change out the SE and LE to run the All Hook pass. My two primaries could not catch. I did have kids that I could have put there from the start, but that would have left the defense too weak, so knowing that we would not pass much I opted to “even it out”. Having a left handed TB was a huge advantage running the wing reverse though. When the WB executed correctly we never once fumbled the ball. The Buck Lateral was probable the most fun play to watch evolve. I called it in short yardage situations. My TB sold the play great and the whole defense thought we were running a dive. My BB was off to the races. I also would have him run out to the left if the defense was overloading the right side.

We were the only team in this age group to use the shot-gun snap. [Reed note: The single wing offense uses a long snap not a shot gun snap. In the long snap, the snapper looks through his legs during the snap. In the shotgun, the center looks at the defense during the snap.] None of the other teams even tried it. My primary snapper was a 7-year-old girl. She had great hands and on average we only botched 2 snaps a game. That was quite impressive I think. [Reed note: if the long snappres get 1,200 long snops befor ethe first game, you generally only have a couple of bad saps in the first game or two then no more the rest of the season.] I found and worked with 3 snappers during our conditioning. That really paid off. She was sick and missed 2 games and my back-up(s) did great. The only time she had trouble was in our second game of the year. We “traveled” to another field and they used the wrong size ball. My fault, I should have insisted on using the K2. They didn’t stop us, we stopped ourselves in that game. At this age I lined up the TB about 3 ∏ yard back instead of 4 1/2 to 5 like you recommended. They were more comfortable there.

I chose not to participate in the post season tournament because I knew the other coaches would not follow minimum play or not have those kids show up. I could not do that to my kids. We always followed minimum play and I never asked a kid to not show up if we were playing a better team. Another thing I was very proud of was that fact that we started with 28 and ended with 27. That was one of my goals; I didn’t want to “drive” kids away from tackle football.

I practiced shifting the formation to the left at the end of the season, but I didn’t do it in the game. That was the biggest learning point for me, especially when we played teams for the 2nd and third time. That would have really helped keep the defense honest. Chalk that up to being a new coach.

We wouldn’t have had the success we did without your books. I emailed you once before and thanked you for putting football in “layman’s” terms for me. Your books are great. I’ll be “moving” up to the 8&9 year old division next year and plan on adding the “Spinning fullback,” if they can do it. We will also run the Gap-Air-Mirror defense. I watched that division some this year and I think we will dominate with it.


Dale Sexton
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Mr. Reed, my name is Bob Morin and roughly six weeks ago I sent an e-mail to you about my 5th and 6th grade team from Poland, Maine winning its first two games of its innaugural season 22-0 and 30-0. Well, the season is now over and we are the only undefeatead team in the league. we finished with a record of 6-0-1. We averaged 25.4 points /game while the starting defense gave up only 2.85 points per game. Overall, the defense gave up on average 6.5 points per game. Great Stuff!

The starting TB averaged three thouchdowns(would have been more but we have a twenty point rule) per game while the starting BB averaged 4yds per carry.

I can not say enough about your books and the GAP Air Mirror Defense. Again, GREAT STUFF!!! I plan to use both again next year when I move up to coach this group in the 7th grade. Thanks again for all you do.

Bob Morin

Mr. Reed,

I have used your books & articles with much success in the past few years in youth football. [We went] undefeated last year…

Paul M. Bonaccini
Traverse City, MI

Mr. Reed,

I purchased your "Coaching Youth Football" and "Single-Wing Offense for Youth Football" books back in 2003. Much success followed (we were 27-5 between '03-'05 (lost championship in '03 at 9-2, won championship in '04 at 11-0)).

Ashley R. Bolton
Huntsville, Alabama

Incidentally, I've always been a big fan of the Gap-Air-Mirror and have always had it in my defensive repertoire.

Hi Coach,

I got "roped" into being head coach for my son's Pop Warner team here in Pittsford, MI. I had never coached period and only played a couple of years of high school ball. Needless to say, I went searching for some guidance on the web and came across your site. I purchased "Coaching Youth Football", "Single Wing Offense for Youth Football" and "Gap Air Mirror Defense for Youth Football". I have done a lot of reading since early August!

Pittsford is a small rural community, so I have a total of 17 players on the team. We have been practicing since August 3rd, but had never had a live scrimmage untilthe first game of the season this morning. We have 10 plays total. Really 5 plus the mirror image the opposite way. We have only run the plays against air. The G.A.M. defense the same way. The kids had never gone up against a live offense. We had only stressed assignments.
[Reed note: this team should do half-line scrimmages, that is, the right side of the offense goes against the left side of the defense running only plays that go to the right side, then repeat with the left side of the offense going against the right side of theh defense. They can and should also do 7-on-7 to practice passing and pass defense and 9 vs 8 to practice only the run game.]
As our first opponent we had the team that won the league last year.

At halftime we were up 32-0 and the referee came over and explained to us the Pop Warner mercy rules. My assistant coach said he had never been on this side of the mercy rule before while coaching Pittsford football. Pittsford has been kind of the laughing stock of football around here!

So, we stop them on defense again (they never got a first down). We take over on our 40 (Mercy rule). Under the mercy rule we could no longer pass, or run outside the tackles. So, we run the wedge! My son goes 60 yards for a touchdown! The final was 44-0.

Most of the time my 4 down lineman had a hold of the quarterback or running back during the handoff. The [opponent] had no clue what we were doing on offense. They were yelling at the[ir]kids to "play harder," "hit somebody," etc. It reminded me a lot of what you wrote in your book.

Thank you,

Jeff Wendt

Our team participated in a big season opening jamboree at Boise State this past weekend. Our scheduled opponent beat us last year in a regular season game 36-0. We had numerous injuries and a near riot between the coaching staffs. They are considered one of the 3 best teams out of 38 going into this season and they were undefeated last year. We were nervous to say the least because of last year and because we were running a new offense. Everyone (except our wives) have said we’re nuts for running the single wing. Most of the comments centered on the direct snap, which they said will never work and the lack of a quarterback. To make matters worse, the head coach’s son, our snapper, broke his arm in a scrimmage two days earlier (he had over 1200 snaps) and was out. Our back up snapper was less than stellar and had maybe 300 snaps.

In the eight days of practice preceding the jamboree, I taught the boys 6 plays from the right formation: sweep, off-tackle, wedge, wing reverse, sprint out pass and post pass. For the jamboree, I scripted 6 plays for each of our 2 tailbacks. The format of the jamboree was each team gets 6 minutes of offense with no clock stoppage. Offense starts from the forty yard line. If you score or don’t gain 10 yards in 4 plays, you go back to the forty and start again. The offense scored on the 4th play with the first tailback and I switched tailbacks. The offense then scored on the 3rd play. We ran two more plays and were ready to score again before time ran out. On the defensive side, the head coach has implemented a modified gap-air-mirror defense. In 6 minutes, our opponents gained less than 5 net yards with no first downs. Our opponents were shell shocked. Our boys were ecstatic!!

So far so good, first game in two weeks. Thanks coach!!


PS The back up snapper was perfect.

Hi Coach Reed -
I have purchased your instructional books on coaching youth football and won our city championship using your philosophies - thank you!
Thanks for your dedication directed at coaching youth football. The guys I beat weekly think I'm a genius thanks to you.
Tim Russell

John T. Reeds Coaching Youth Football 4th edition decribes in clear step by step approach how any coach can lead his team to wins by applying his successful and proven football coaching concepts.

Coach Reed,
I have several of your books including Coaching Youth Football 3rd edition. By the way, I used the gap 8 defense last year and had 6 shutouts in 8 games! One game we gave up a kick return for the only score and the other was a sweep for a TD by the fastest kid on the field. I love your books!
Thank You,
Craig Smith

Great overall experience. Coach Reed’s book is a must for anyone thinking of coaching youth football. After reading approximately 1/4 the book, I feel like I could coach and win a game against any youth team in Texas.
Mark Langseth


I just wanted to give you a testimonial on this defense. I was the defensive coach for a Pop Warner football team in Fairport NY. The level was mighty Mite –ages 7, 8 9. We were the new team in the league , the league had expanded from 2 team from Fairport to 3 teams. 99% of our kids had never played tackle football and the 1% who had, were castoffs that the other two teams did not want back. I installed your Gap -8 defense for a number of reasons but mostly for its simplicity. Needless to say we won every game and really shut down most team’s offensive playmakers. Coaches would repeatedly try to run up the middle and could not believe that we could stop them. Up until the last game we only surrendered 2 touchdowns in 6 games. Our last game was against a very fast and very talented team that if we went player for player we should have never had a chance. In this game the gap 8 had 4 goaline stances and stuffed them each time. The game ended in a tie 7-7. I believe very strongly in this defense and I would recommend it to every youth coach. Thanks for making our season a very memorable one.

Daniel D. Wetzel
Indirect Sales Manager
Upstate Markets
PCS- 585-230-0065

Mr. Reed,

Thanks for writing Coaching Youth Football. Without your book, I would have been in a world of hurt for the past 180 days. As a "rookie" coach, I took on a first year (in other words, in years past our city never had a tiny might team so NONE of my kids had ever played organized football before) tiny might Pop Warner team who competes in a very competitive league here in Florida where 90% of the other teams had second- and third-year players. When I accepted the job I was told that we were unlikely to win a single game. After the first practice and after seeing the kids on our team, I believed what I was told. As coaches, we "dug in" for a very long, painful season. Long story short, using your strategies, we went 8-2 (unofficially...technically they don't keep score for the tinies, but all the kids, coaches, and parents keep score) and the two we lost were games that we barely lost and had a very good shot at winning. One loss was early in the season and had we played that same team again later in the year, we would have shut them out and won by three touchdowns. Our kids executed at an amazing level. The kids had a blast and I didn't embarrass myself as the head coach.

I move up with my son to Mighty Mites next year so the score and our record will be official. Now the bar has been set at an undefeated season rather than the initial, "don't beat yourself up too much if you never win a game"...

Thanks again,

Coach Thayne Harrison

Mr. Reed,

I have been coaching single wing for the past two years in the 7-9 and 8-10 age group. I grew up in the 70's playing single wing football and our teams always had success. In the past two years our team is 20 - 2.
Thank you for this book. It truly inspired me and the boys that I have been coaching. Some other coaches thought that I was old fashioned, but I knew that it would work. I proved it this year by going to the Championship game at the M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and winning against an undefeated team to take the Central Maryland Football Title.
Thanks again
Tom Shewell

I just came across this email exchange we had back in September. I have to tell you of the success we had as a result of your input. I wrote to you after we had lost our first 3 games. After getting your reply and doing as you said – getting the linebackers to not back up and to attack the LOS, and making the wedge play more of a key in our offense, things really came together. We only lost one of our subsequent 6 games (and that one we should have won, but for a couple of let-downs when we had minimum play kids in). We had two shut-outs and outscored our opponents 123 – 46 over the span. The line started playing more assertively with the wedge blocking mentality, and the wing reverse started clicking as the off tackle and sweep worked better. It went for 4 TDs over the six games (and the fake reverse went for two.) The season became a success.

Anyway, I just wanted to close that circle with you and say thanks so much for responding to me. I believe your response factored greatly into salvaging our season.

Happy holidays,

Mark McDermott

McDermott & Associates
9607 N. Copper Ridge Trail
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
(480)837-7476 fax

I would like to add to your collection of success stories. Last year (2004) I took over a pee-wee youth football team, ages 7 to 10 years old. Although I purchased your book “Coaching Youth Football”, I did not fully implement it. I opted to stay with more conventional formations I had coached before. Needless to say, my roster was all first year players, and we went 2-8.

This year, I additionally bought your book “Single Wing Offense for Youth Football”. I decided this offense complemented the talent I had returning, and against my assistant coach’s advice, we went with the Single Wing Offense this season. All I can say is WOW, what a change. We not only went undefeated (11-0) and won the championship; we lead the league in scoring, by putting up 320 points for the year. We only had five plays, and our top three running backs averaged 14, 12 and 11 yards per carry. The plays were simple for the kids to learn, and by the end of the year they were running them to near perfection. After a few games, opposing teams knew what we were running, but still couldn’t stop us. I found at this age group, the defenses had a hard time adjusting to the strong side, and as you know that spells disaster for them.

Defensively, I also went with the GAM. I modified it some, and usually went with three down lineman and two middle LB’s, but this was due to the fact I had more speed than size. The defense worked well, and we led the league on this side of the ball too. We only gave up 44 points all year, and didn’t even get scored upon until the sixth game of the season.

Granted, I think we would have been successful this year running a number of different schemes, but I also believe your systems were a huge contributing factor in us finishing undefeated. I highly recommend your books to any coach (new or old), that is taking on the challenge of coaching youth football.

Jason Hunt (Hanford, CA)
Head Coach
Hanford Pee Wee Steelers
2005 All Valley League Champions

I am writing to give support for your GAP-AIR-MIRROR defense. I was thrust into a head coaching postion for 10-12 year olds due to the existing coach not being able to fulfull the committment. I researched on line and came across your book and ordered it. I had helped out last year with running the defense which was a mandatory 5-3 per league rules. It looked like something I could implement based on my limited experience and never having played football.

What a success! My team went 9-1 and won the Rocky Bowl Championship. We allowed a league low 51 points. The concepts were excellent and your book was easy to follow. Thanks, lookign forward to next year.
Mike Kouwenhoven, Billings, Montana.


I've just completed my first year of coaching football (12-13 yr old) as an assistant, and while being incredibly enjoyable I am saddened to report how little I actually know about football. This is coming from a man that played youth, high school, and college football.

As the season progressed and I realized just how little I knew, I began to search out information that would help me with coaching. Your book was the one source of information that made sense. Even though I didn't receive your book till part way through the season, I was able to use your approach toward special teams to our advantage.

Brian Rigot

I wanted to thank you for putting together excellent coaching books. I just finished my third year as the defensive coach for my son's youth football teams. I bought Coaching Youth Football before his first season of tackle football. I wanted an aggressive, but disciplined defense and the GAM seemed to be a good fit for what I wanted to do. I have made some slight adjustments at various times to fit our personnel, but overall we have followed the setup you describe. I bought the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football book before the 2005 season. We moved up to a higher age group and I wanted the additional detail this book provided. It was very useful.

Here's few statistics to show the success that our team has achieved. A large part of it was due to the defense.
2003: County Championship, 8-1 record, 152 points scored, 40 points allowed, 1,713 yards gained, 615 yards allowed.
2004: County Championship, 9-0 record, 181 points scored, 6 points allowed, 2,201 yards gained, 491 yards allowed.
2005: County Championship, 10-0 record, 178 points scored, 18 points allowed (only 12 by the defense), 2,354 yards gained, 614 yards allowed

Thanks again for the books. Studying the defense, reviewing tape, and working with the boys on tackling and individual responsibility in a team construct really helped them to be successful.
Scott Shelton

Coach John,

Just a short note to say thank you for your writings that I've discovered over the last year. Because we have adhered to many of your strategies, our team has just finished their regular season, undefeated .... 6-0.
This is a Pop Warner Pee-Wee team, in Traverse City, Michigan that I have been fortunate enough to coach for three years now
We are on our way to the Championship game this weekend...... I'll keep you posted.

Paul M. Bonaccini
Vice President, Investments
Raymond James & Associates
522 E. Front Street
Traverse City, MI 49686


quote me one more time, The Ponca City Cardinals are now "STATE CHAMPIONS", and will play for the Super Series National Championship in their Age and Division, due to implementing your strategies.

Dave Tarver
PC Cardinals

Coach Reed,
I have bought and read four of your books now on coaching youth sports. Since i have started using your knowledge as a basis for my coaching philosophy i have had great success coaching football and baseball. We won the conference championship in football using the single wing. Coaches laughed at us , literally until we beat the socks off their team and then they tried to emulate us the next week.

You mentioned that you would like to quote me about our success. Please do, I'm known as a John T Reed disciple around here, I get laughed at about that also. But if you want some good information about our success let me fill ya in.

My first year coaching youth football (10-12 year olds) we went a miserable 0-6.

I vowed that it would never happen again, so I began to read everything i could about youth football. I bought three of your books for football and used them. The next season the other coaches in the league said we "went from the outhouse to the penthouse!" We were Conference Champs. Undefeated in Conference play. Breezed through the playoffs until we got to the superbowl. We ended up losing to a great team, that we had beat earlier in the season. We beat them 20-18, then they ended up beating us 20-19. No shame in that loss.

Here is what i learned from you that made all the diference in the world.

1. We learned how to stop a sweep
2. We had no losses of the ball on snaps,, the entire season
3. We had no losses of the ball on exchanges,, the entire season
4. We threw no interceptions , the entire season
5. We were the best team in the league by far at running between the tackles.

By the way, your GAM is illegal in our league. I have a great modification for it in leagues that outlaw it.

Give me a call when you get a chance,, i'm sure your a busy man, but i know that you would love to hear a few of the specifics that happened when other coaches saw our offense.

I'd love to tell you about them—and that is just our football team. Our baseball team had a great season also.

Thanks Coach
LT Mann

Mr. Reed,

Before my 1st year coaching at the youth level, I read your book "Coaching Youth Football". My players have won 2 league championships at the 13-14 year old level, and my players have never had a losing season. I have put to use many of the concepts you advocate in your book, and I would like to expand on two of them.

In your book you suggest that if a coach does not scout his opponents then he should be "fired for coaching malpractice". I couldn't agree more!. After our final regular season game ended, I quickly left the field so I could go scout our opponent, the Red Bombers, who we were to play for the championship in two days. I made it to the field for the start of the game. The Red Bombers were a very good team, and were winning easily. Then, three minutes before half-time, the Red Bombers lined up in a goofy formation: WR lined up far left, the G-C-G aligned as normal, both tackles and TE lined up far right near the sidelines with the FB and wing aligned as backs behind them. The QB was in shotgun with his HB lined up next to him. The opposing defense was confused as they were scrambling to try to line up correctly. They did not (their coach didn't read your book). The first play was a pass to the wing who followed his blockers for a 30 yard gain. The second play was a quick slant to the WR who took it the distance for a touchdown!

In the championship game against the Red Bombers, we were clinging to a 1 point lead with about 3 minutes left to go in the game with the ball at mid field. They break the huddle and line up in their "goofy" formation. Our kids responded quickly and lined up pefectly against this formation. Now the other team looked confused! On the first play, the QB looked for the wing, but couldn't throw because our LB was in position to intercept the throw and take it the other way. Their QB panicked, and we sacked him for a loss. Fourth down, same formation. We doubled their WR on the slant and the ball fell incomplete. Our kids won!

Here's the point. We didn't win the game because we were great coaches or because we had the most talent. We won because our coaches hustled as much as our players. Do not underestimate the value of scouting becaues it can win games against superior opponents!

The other concept I took from your book has to do with coaching the offensive lineman. Many coaches will work out their plays with regard to the backs, and tell the lineman to just "base block". Like you said in your book, it takes a superior athlete to successfully drive block his opponent, and that opponent must be a weak player. Based on your advise, I devised all of my running plays with blocking schemes for every lineman against every possible defense. I say schemes because we never drive block opponents head up. Our lineman mostly down block, kick out, and trap block with regard to our running plays.

We were playing a very tough opponent in the last game of the season before the play-offs. We ran our off tackle play literally 40-50% of the time, and they could not stop it! I remember a coach telling me during the game that, "you can't stop that play unless you scouted it". He was right because, to his credit, he scouted us earlier in the season and gave us our only loss!

In summary, the ideas and concepts presented in "Coaching Youth Football" are proven strategies that lead to success. Read the book, implement the ideas, work hard as a coaching staff, and enjoy your championship season!

jerry schaper
Osseo, MN

Please go to part 3