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Gap-Air-Mirror Defense for Youth Football reader success stories Part 2

Hi John,  Kevin from Canada here. I've spoken to you a few time on the phone, read your books, ran your O and D and won numerous titles and went 72 wins 3 losses years ago. I ran the single wing 2 years ago as O coordinator and had the second highest scoring team in the league...  So my offense was unbalanced line , blocking, wing,tail, and fullback.

My GAM defense works up to about high school JV or varsity. John T. Reed

John we spoke on phone several years ago. I am the coach that showed the RARITAN BAY COUGARS in Old Bridge NJ your book first. The peewees won the championship this past season 18-0 using the GAM defense.

Ronoldo Burke


I am writing this e-mail just to say that I have found that the philosophies and schemes outlined in your football books DO work. I have coached youth football for 11 years. I own all of your football books, and everything you have written is practical and applicable at the youth level. I have not necessarily followed everything verbatim as you outline it in your various books, but sometimes I have tweaked things here and there to fit our personnel. We have never won a championship, but we have been to the playoffs every year except one, and that year we had 14 first year players on a squad of 28. Our teams have beaten vastly athletically superior teams many times over the years. I think that you are 100% accurate in your analysis of the capabilities and limitations of the typical youth football team. I look forward to the next book you publish.

Bob Hughes
Shoreline WA

Hi Mr. Reed,

I took over a team and coached them myself [I recommend having no assistants at the youth level unless you are sure they are loyal to you—like your wife or brother], used your gap air mirror [defense] and some of my own offense and ended up winning the league's superbowl.

This year once again used your defense and my team of 11-13 yr olds went 9-0 and only had 12 points scored against us all year. (We play in Superbowl this Sat )

Thank you,

Thank you very much.  I bought John’s coaching, single wing, GAM defense, and contrarian offense books and my teams have gone:
2005       3-4-2
2006       4-4-1 (purchased Johns books here)
2007       7-2
2008       8-1

Larry Rollings

 Wanted to drop you a quick note as I am a big proponent of the Single Wing and your GAM defense. I began coaching youth football two years ago (3-4th grade tackle) and am the GM for 3 other age group tackle programs that fall under my organization.

I put the single wing and GAM in two years ago with a team of 16 players of which 14 had never played football before.  We only won 2 games that first year,

However, our 2 wins were by over 30 points and our losses were by an avg. margin of 2pts.  In addition to head coach I am the offensive coordinator. Had I run the D we would have won most of those games.

I am proud to say that this year my team won the league championship with a record of 8-1 and we won our conf. with a record of 5-0.  The league is extremely competitive.  My team was the youngest team in the league as I have 14 of the 16 boys returning for next year.

Our Single Wing dominated teams as we averaged 33pts/game.  Our GAM defense allowed an avg of 6.6pts per game.  We had 5 shutouts in 9 games.  4 of them were in a row.

I have all of your football books and the time management book was instrumental in our Superbowl win back in Nov. We won the game 26-21 against an undefeated Cowboy team that beat us earlier in the season 29-26.  

As a former Army Airborne infantry officer I take great pride in being prepared and putting my teams in a position to compete at the highest level.

Your insight and experience have helped me in 2 short years to take a program that was floundering to one that is now being considered one of the best-run programs.  Thanks for your help.


John Sivilla

To Mr. J. Reed
I wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for what the GAM Defense. I had previously been a Head Football coach for a Pop Warner Youth Football team / Mitey Mite (7-9 yrs) for the last for the previous two years from 2005-2007 and had losing seasons. Due to those tough experiences, I had a lot of unanswered questions. I talked to a few people about my concerns whom were either involved in High School or College Coaching capacities and found no refuge to say the least. I had previously employed NFL / College strategies and tactics to youth football and was confused due to the results. So one night, I was surfing the net and typed in youth football and perused several youth football sites. I finally came up your site and read all your comments Youth football and Reader Comments. After serious thought, I came to a realization that the Top Youth Football teams in my area were possibly using the very strategies that you had implored extensively. I later contacted the Youth Football Teams Head Coaches in my area and confirmed that they were using the Single Wing, Power-I, or some type of unbalanced power running attack and complimented with some type of pressure type defense. I later researched the National Pop Warner Youth Football Championship teams for both Division 1 & 2 and later discovered the above mentioned statement was true and you had eloquently described on your website.
I had moved out the area where I had coached previously. I later enrolled my son into a rival youth football team that was one of the winning teams in the Conference I had previously coached in. My older brother later became the Head Football Coach for my sons team, comprised of 7-9 yr olds. My brother had previously coached under my regime. I later became his assistant offensive coach and he was the defensive coach. I had brought your books on “Coaching Youth Football”, “Single Wing Offense”, and “GAM Defense”. After much consideration based on past experiences, my brother and I decided to implement your GAM Defense but my brother felt the direct snap in your Single Wing could be an issue but believed in your offensive philosophy and decided to go with another successful Contrarian style offense which was the indirect snap Gregory Double Wing.  

We had initially were asked by the new football organization Board of Directors to explain our offensive / defensive philosophies and were met with great resistance, almost to point where me and brother were so offended that we were going to quit coaching even before the season began. This particular meeting  had occurred months previously before the season actually began. The reason why such resistance was given by these people was because they had used conventional football tactics such as the pro style formations with man to man blocking schemes and the such. They considered their themselves as a winning Youth Football organization and did not want former opposing losing coaches to disrupt their streak. I later discovered that this organization only won handily against seasonal opponents but all the teams that made it to the Pop Warner playoffs were eventually eliminated and there was no proof that they had made to the National Pop Warner Playoffs in Florida. Nonetheless, I believed they were successful based on your valid assumption that they had such a talent advantage which nullified their poor football tactics when facing local foes but when they were up against equal or better talent, they were no match by either talent or coaching strategies.
When the preseason began, we later met with negative feedback by the Youth Football Organization we coached for. They believed that we going to lose and that I style of football was not considered football and that my brother and I would fail miserably. Even the parents thought the same of me and my brother as they complained to the Board of Directors about our practices and that our style of football looked downright embarrassing and ridiculous. Despite the lack of support, with only my wife and family believing in us, we stayed on course. We did exactly as you had suggested with practices the way you outlined and were concerned mainly with our players offensively knowing their assignments first and foremost and then using many walkthroughs and reps with minimal full scrimmage time.  Defensively, we made sure the player knew their assignments, used tackling dummy / d-line bear crawl / pursuit drills only, and rep the hell out of the upcoming opponents offensive plays / tendencies. We also employed the Contrarian tactics of the Double Wing which were very similar to your Single Wing.
The organization’s first game was an exhibition game scheduled against a Division 1 team. Our organization was a Division 2 Team, suggesting that we should not only lose, but lose by a large margin. All the teams competed this day with our team being the second one of the day. Some of the players on our team had fathers whom were Head Coaches for the older teams of the organization. They were on hand to watch as well and were curious to see how me and my brother system would work out. To say the least, we not only won the game, we won it convincingly by 24-0. The other team was so mad that after the game was over, the head coach made that team run multiple punishment sprints and had a grueling full scrimmage practice over a two hour period. That same day, the all the other teams were blown away by the opposition had only one of the teams put six points on the board while they all suffered 20 point margin blow outs.
After this game, the organization was stunned and later became friendly. The next game, we blew out that team 26-0. To make matters short, we went undefeated with a 10-0 season with our team averaging over 300 rushing yards per game / 24 pts per game / opponents scoring avg 6 pts per game / holding teams to 50 rushing per game. We shut out 5 of the 10 opponents we faced and were considered the best team in the conference.
Your GAM Defense was a shut down, instant pressure defense. The teams were played against were had so much problems that the referees were calling illegal procedures penalties against us in order for the other team to gain ground. When other teams tried to pass, they were pressured into making throwing interceptions and taking sacks. When the other teams tried to run the the vaunted “Sweep”, that play was mainly shut down for major losses. When they tried the Counter plays or trick plays, those plays even ended up for more major losses. The only time the other team was successful offensively was because one of players failed his assignment.
Offensively, the Double Wing Offense was unstoppable. Funny thing is, when only ran Three plays all season, which were running plays. That was our whole offense. I can relate it like this, In your Single Offense, we had an Off Tackle play was our power play. We then had a Wedge play up the middle and a Counter play for the weak side. When teams didn’t make up for the unbalanced attack to the play side for the Off Tackle play, we were gaining 10 yards a carry or more. When they tried shut that down, we ran the Wedge up the middle gaining at least 6 yards a carry. When the other team tried to overplay the Off Tackle play and clog up the Wedge play, we killed the other team with the Counter which gained over 25 yards a play or scored. This offense looked weird and didn’t look like what you see on TV when you watch the NCAA or the NFL.
Neither the Organization or Parents complained but complimented us and befriended us. The Organization was so impressed by our system (AKA GAM DEFENSE / DBL WNG) that they are now currently looking to implement it universally throughout all their teams because the other teams in the organization did not do as well.
After all was said and done, Thank you very much Mr.Reed for all you have done for the sport of Youth Football. I know for a fact that what your preach in your books and on your website area 100% true and applicable in Youth Football at this time.
 Matafanua Lualemaga / Off. Coordinator

West Bay Rams / Mitey Mite (7-9) / Pop Warner
San Bruno, CA.

Coach  Reed

I have been using the single wing offense and GAM defense for the  past 4 seasons (10-11yrs old) and wanted to give you an update for this season. Over the past 4 years, our teams have compiled a record of  28-4.  Our 2008 season ended just last week with a record of 7-1. [Reed note: This league has no playoffs.] The one team that beat us is undefeated and won our game with a score in the last 30 seconds of the contest.  We scored a whopping 230 points while only allowing 40.  Five our our wins were shutouts. The off-tackle play was our bread and butter and the wedge and tailback dive ( a play I put in to compliment the buck lateral) provide excellent gains as well.  Defenses rarely shifted to our unbalanced line so the Wing Reverse was rarely used.  We implemented a flanker streak with great success and scored at least one touchdown per game in the air.  Occasionally we ran a balanced line with double wingbacks to slow backside pressure, but just changing the formation from right to left was more than sufficient to have our way with most defenses.  I also installed a trips formation to spread out the defense.  From this formation we threw a quick slant to the blocking back who was out wide and still ran the ball on a tailback dive and off-tackle (we were able to pull the inside tackle to make the trap block).  [Reed note: It is unusual for a youth team to have player athletic enough to pull on the line.] In addition, we found that releasing the Long End on the run sprint pass worked much better than the BB  due to the fact that he usually got lost at the LOS and the LE was rarely covered.  One final thought—I would like to recommend to your readers how important it is to develop the blocking skills and assignment of the O-line.  Too many youth teams just put the big slow kids up there and  tell them to block, but never really coach the position. [Reed note: I and many other coaches start outcoaching QBs and backs but end up coaching the line because we eventually figure out that’s where the game is won or lost.] I have built all my teams around my lineman and what they are able to do and I have had some great assistant coaches who have made that possible.

Defensively we were very impressive.  Pressure from the guards and tackles usually prevented a play from even getting started.  This was pivotal due to the fact that we did not have the athletes at LB that we have had in the  past.  Our DE's were solid all year with the exception of our one loss in which the reverse hurt us.  Late in the year, I discovered that one of my ends made an outstanding MLB but I did not have the experience to replace him full time at end.  Had I to do it all over again, another DE would have been developed.  Opposing offenses only had 2 choices, pass or go wide and we both know that most youth teams are not very good at the pass.  Disciplined ends and hard hitting corners were key to our containment success.

I just wanted to say thanks again for all the help I received from your books.  I will be ordering more as I prepare for the next level of coaching.

Al Johnson

Coach Reed,
My name is Rick Catalano and I purchased a few of your books earlier in the year (GAP defense and Coaching Youth Football).  I coach a youth football program for 7-8th graders here in Wilmington, DE.  First, I’d like to thank you for sharing your wisdom regarding the specifics of coaching this very unique age group.   I’ve gained considerable knowledge from your books and it has made us a better team!  Last year we were 1-6 and this year, after implementing your defensive scheme, we’re 4-3 (includes 3 shut-outs!!) and making our first playoff appearance in several years!!
Thanks again for providing such a great teaching tool.  Thanks to you, our team is enjoying a success that they haven’t felt in a long time!
Rick Catalano

A couple years ago I bought your books and installed your offense and defense.  We did not immediately win the championship, but I stayed with it.  Last season, I was asked to coach an all-rookie, 5th grade team in my league as they had a boost in enrollment and were in desperate need of a coach who was dumb enough to take over a team of kids that the other coaches did not claim.
We lost every game against vastly more experienced and talented teams BUT, with patience and attention to detail and realistic expectations and goal setting, and encouragement and still more patience we began to move the ball, then we started to score, and then we became competitive in games.    
This year, 15 of 17 kids came back and in our second game, on the third play from scrimmage, our tailback went 75 yards for a touchdown running unbalanced left, off tackle.  We won 37-12.  Then we played a HUGE team the following week and put the game away with a 17 play, 70 yard drive.  Our 65-lb tailback had 40 carries!  We won this past weekend against a 4-1 team with ball control in the ice and rain.  Their under-center offense yielded them 8 fumbles.  We had only 2.  Their bad exchanges and our 1/1, 45 yards, 1 TD passing day was the difference in the 14-12 win.  
Our opponents refuse to respect the unbalanced line even when we run "power" 35 times in a game!  They always over-play the wedge once we rattle off a 20 yarder on the opening drive.  Our "jump pass" to the weak end is never covered as they often put 10 in the box on us.  We even added a "double wing" style pulling guard to your offense to really seal off the LB pursuit.  

Our GAM defense is improving dramatically each week as we get more confident and more aggressive.  We have had some breakdowns when QBs scramble and on trick plays and passes to 5'10" 11 year old TEs, but the 20-yard sacks and the complete destruction of our opponent's blast and sweep plays more than make up for it.  It's great fun.
Coach, we are now 4-2 and with a win we'll be in the playoffs!  We've already blown out a team that beat us 40-12 last year.  Several coaches have remarked that we run an "unsophisticated" and "simple" offense that is somehow beneath the standards of [our league].  I tell them they are absolutely right and that I run it because I am a dumb coach.  One coach who sneered at us has not scored in 5 games!  Go figure.  Anyway, I recommend your books to everyone I know who is not in our league!
There is no way I can express for you the joy these kids and I experience when we knock off these bigger, faster, more experienced teams with ball-control offense and play-making defense.  Coaching enables me to stay involved with the sport I love and the life lessons we learn about teamwork and effort and attention to detail are immeasurable.
Thanks again for writing your books!
Troy Grice (6th grade, Division 3)

I am a first year coach and your books have been a huge asset to me and have given me much confidence. When I googled youth football, I saw your article on the 10 most common mistakes that youth football coaches make and realized that I would have made 7 of the 10. I read your other articles and then ordered your books (everything but the clock management so far). Thank you very much for the energy that you have put into your work. You have had a big impact on all of the parents and kids on my team.

Bernie Lyons

Coach Reed
I'm the defensive coach for L.V.O. football league in Evansville, IN 11-12 yr old Patriots team. I'm in my third season running your G.A.M. defense and we are still undefeated, knock on wood. To date we are 19-0 and we take nothing for granted . I have studied and read Gap-Air-Mirror Defense at least 100 times. Thanks to your Coaching Youth Football book I have scouted our opponents from film and live game every single week of the season, and our knowledge of our up-coming opponents leaves us truly prepared.

I really believe in sportsmanship and teach my kids to honor the game and put team first. I'm sorry I can't post game scores because to me it really doesn't matter, I'll leave that to the head coach.

Thanks for your insight, I like your no-nonsense approach to football. John I found your books on the net over four years ago on the Gap-Air-Mirror Defense and Coaching Youth Football.

The head coach of our team at first had doubts, but had a good amount of patience and I was able to implement the system without fear of being fired.

We faced a big and fast team in our jamboree and lost 34-0. We later found out that they had a[n illegally old] 14-year old running back. He was put off the team.

Charles Zimmerman
Defensive Coach - Patriots

Coach Reed,

The [GAM] defense is great. No one we play has any idea what to do against us so they just keep trying the same plays. On Sunday, we didn’t give up a single 1st down against a team that was 4-1. Since I started running the defense we are 16-1.

Thanks again.
Erik fetterman

Today I am ordering two more copies of your Single Wing book for my other offensive coaches -- there is simply too much good, insightful information in there for them not to read it first hand . . . and I need them on the same page.

Again, thank you for the excellent publicatoins.  I have all the other football books now, some in multiple copies.

I've gone to the Superbowl 2 years in a row using the GAM. Lost the book. [Message in the comments line of a new order for the GAM book.]

Joel Wells

Hi John.

Your Coaching Youth Football was an excellent read. The best $29 I have ever spent. Thanks to your books, we faced the single-wing offense last year twice out of eight games, I was the OC so I had no control over the 5-3 we were running to defend the SW. Needless to say, we were crushed on the D side of the ball both games.

By the way, we will be running the GAM in our Mitey Mite PW league. Thank you for writing these books. They have really helped me and to what I have seen on the field, they have helped a lot of other coaches too. 

Mark Langseth

I have your books on single wing offence, air-gap defence, youth football and contrarian football... excellent stuff!  In our spring league in Victoria, British Columbia Canada, we took a team that was 2-11 last year and finished 8-3, with pretty much the exact same players.

Keep up the good work!

Dave Wong

Coach...reading your email about the GAM, etc. brought back good memories. Started slow, but closed out our last 4 seasons of spring 8-man tackle at 25-4, with 2 Championships - City of San Antonio,

Tim Brown

Dear Jack,

Contrarian Offense is fantastic. In fact, when I receive your "Clock Management" book, I will own all of your football coaching books. I have coached defense exclusively for the past three years, and your contrarian philosophies on the defensive side of the ball have served us well. This past year we had the third ranked scoring defense out of thirty teams at the Junior Varsity level (11-13 years old) in our league. We were ranked first in scoring defense until we suffered a bad loss in the playoffs. The eventual champion beat us 8-6.
They scored at least 25 points on every other opponent. Our defense looked very different than the 4-4's most other teams were running. We used a combination of Gap-Air-Mirror, 9-1-1, and 8-1-2 (two safeties). We were under-sized, (5 defensive starters will continue to play JV football this coming season) our linebacker (70 tackles) had only played defensive tackle previously, our safety (50 tackles) had never played football at all...

Jack, I enjoy reading your books and your ideas really work!

Bob Hughes
Asst. Coach
Bothell Cougars Varsity
Greater Eastside Junior Football Association

[Your books] are awesome - best books on coaching I've ever read.
I plan on buying all your football books now!!!
I didn't realize what an "idiot coach" I was until now.
THANKS for slapping sense into me!!
I'm switching over from the veer & spread to the Reed Single Wing.
2 months ago (spring ball) I had a single wing (with fullback) run against my 5-3-3 and I didn't know what it was and my defense suffered a slow, grinding defeat. The coach running the SW was Coach Mohns of Saguaro High School, Scottsdale, AZ.
Matt Thornton
Chandler AZ

Used your defensive system last year, went 7-1 (from a previous 0-7 season). Such common sense, it's remarkably refreshing and effective. Thanks John.

Brian C. Costa

I've read and used your football techniques for the past 2 seasons and haven't lost a game (first time in program history). You wouldn't believe the hell I got for running the GAM defense the first year. Even 3/4 of the way through the season when we were allowing the opposing offense about 20 yards per game, I was still hearing about it. I even had coaches from higher levels trying to run their offense against it during practice (as if they could teach the offense a "better" play in one practice to outmaneuver GAM). Their frustration was palpable. The next year I ran into two of our biggest rivals who were running a version of it. I imagine that since they've all
taped our single-wing offense this past year, I'll probably see it in our opponents.

Walter Sheehy

I thought you might find this interesting....I am entering my first year as a head coach (and am paying close attention to the mistakes I do not want to make that you highlight) and recently interviewed and was awarded a team for the upcoming year. One of the interviewers was Coach [name withheld], Varsity Head Coach of [name withheld] High School here in Orange County. I've been studying the GAM defense for 1-1/2 years in order to implement it if given a chance and was/am a vocal proponent of the GAM defense. Well, Coach [name withheld] threw several hardballs at me to attack the defense and, although quite nervous, felt that I explained the approach to his attacking of the scheme rather well. I received feedback that Coach [name withheld] felt that my interview was one of the strongest of all of the interviews including long-standing coaches in our league. Thanks again for your help to date!

[name withheld to avoid identifying high school]

 Coach, thank you on your reply and advice. I ran the pro formation with my pee wee team last year and felt it was not fast enough, because we liked to sweep a lot with our slot and running backs. A little info on how we ran across your defense. We started off the first two games of the season using a 5-3 defense. Lucky these teams were weak, but our third game was against a well coached double wing offense. I used your gam defense and it worked a lot better than our 5-3, so I kept it as the main defense. Everyone else in the league played T.V. football, except one (double wing). We were 8-0-2- last year and though are offense sputtered (avg. 3 to 5 turnovers a game) it was the GAM that made the kids season a successful one.

I want you to know my players loved the gam. when I decided to stay with your defense, you could here the kids get excited... They felt comfortable with the alignment and assignments... I remember one team that had only one loss (to us) and wanted to beat us "so" bad. The second time we played them they ran trips. They are a power I offense and your defense took them right out of their strength, before the game even started!

Thanks for letting me bend your ear,

Dear Mr. Reed,
Thank you. I'm just coming home from a victory party for our 10/11 year old youth football team. We won the league title today with a team mixed with kids who on two levels last year were a combined 0-8, 4-4. This is my third year coaching, and having read and studied your books on offense, defense, youth football and clock management, you are a huge part of this championship too. It was a battle at times with other coaches who fought me on many aspects of the game (I believe and follow your theories on the game because they are logical and they work) regarding offensive philosphy and time management, but it paid off.
Just one example: today we beat a team 6-0 who was 9-1, had scored 200 points in ten games, but by controlling the ball on our offense we kept their offense off the field. We knew how to shut them down while on defense, and on offense had two long drives of almost an entire quarter each, both starting on our own twenty, that ended in one touchdown and the second leaving them on their own 7 with 9:00 left in the game.
They had an explosive offense with the two fastest backs in the league. At one time in the third quarter, on 4th and two in our own end with my head coach screaming at me to punt, I lied and told the refs we were going for it. In our league punts are dead ball plays, no time runs during them beacuse they are not live. We went to the line after an injury timeout, ran twelve seconds off the clock trying to draw them offsides, and with one second on the play clock called timeout and then punted. At the end of the game those twelve seconds came in handy as we were able to run the clock off with three kneel down plays at the end of the game, the last snapped at 24 seconds on the clock on third down (we run on 25 seconds a play) to end the game without them getting a chance to touch the ball again. The other coach was furious the whole drive because we ran every play at 24/25 seconds, and ran off the last 4 minutes of the game.
If I had the time to, I could cite many other examples of how your books helped us to win all season long and today. We had a team that was the third seed in the playoffs (I gave you our last year's records) and knocked off the one and two seeds to win the title. Thank you, thank you, thank you again!
Bill Robbins
BANC Raiders Junior Division

Coach Reed,

I have enjoyed and learned a lot from a few of your books. My experience and study has taken me a long way from a guy who wanted to help my fraternity's flag football team not get embarrassed to currently being an assistant for a small college football team. How I have gotten from there to here has been quite a journey.

In 2004 I was stationed at Camp LeJeune and was able to be an assistant for the 10th Marine Regiment football team. I adapted the Gap Air Mirror defense and your Single Wing offense to the 8-man tackle football league that the base ran that fall and winter. As an assistant I experienced many of the frustrations you have as an assitant, but I was able to see promise to both systems at that level where I was coaching 18-40 year olds. 

In 2005 I deployed to Iraq and was out of football except for the books I read during my deployment. Yes, I did ship some of your books to myself.

In the 2006-7 Camp LeJeune base season I was fortunate to be able to be the head coach of the 10th Marine Regiment's team. Fortunately the base had gone to an 11-man league using high school rules. I was very fortunate to have an assistant who I developed a great working relationship with. Even though the defense is designed for youth football I made the Gap Air Mirror our primary defense that we ran all over the field with only slight adjustments used in obvious passing situations. I decided to use this very simple defense because I was very limited to the amount of effective practice time with a team of active duty Marines and Sailors. Since other teams in the league would have the same limitations, I didn't expect to see an effective option attack or passers that were very effective in the passing offense. These assumptions proved to be correct. The defensive unit was very effective and left other teams and coaches scratching their heads. Nothing got through the middle, our defensive ends rarely gave up containment, and when they thought the pass was the answer the QB was often sacked or running for his life, resulting in a lot of interceptions. While we did have good players, the scheme made our defense seem all-world We ended up with 4 shutouts, 9 wins and 1 loss, in the base championship game. The team that defeated us had good players, good organization and huge unit support that was key to their success. They ran a very effective option attack. I had scouted them very little as I didn't expect to see them in the championship game. Preparation for that championship game was lacking as operational commitments had me and my battalion in the field the week of that game and I only returned from training 5 hours before game time.

I wish I could have ran the same defense at the Semi-Pro level where I was an assistant the teams in that league were even less organized than the base league, but alas as an assistant I wasn't calling the shots. But I think it would have been very effective at that level as well.

I am now stationed at The Naval Academy where I am able to be an assistant to the Sprint Football team (formerly known as "lightweight football") and am loving every minute of it.

James J. Sheasley

My name is Jeff Bateman, I coach little league football in Lynchburg Va. This year I put in the singlewing and the GAM defense.I coach with my uncle who has been coaching for over 20 years.I ran the offense and he ran the defense. I change some things to make the offense my own but I left the key points in place. We scored 283 points in 10 games, the defense only allowed 25 points in those games. My 1st string tailback rushed for over 1100 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, this kid was only 8yrs.old. Thanks to you parents and even other coaches are asking what I’m running. I can’t wait until next year when I put the spin series in. Thanks again and you made a believer out of me!!!!!!!!!

Coach Reed,

I wrote you a number of weeks ago about our teams progress and the GAM. (6-0 victory after a blocked punt against our Arch Rivals)

After a few setbacks during the season, today we advanced to our Superbowl. Our defense blocked a punt to give our O the ball @ the three again ( this is our 4th punt block in 9 games). Further, we stripped and ran the ball in 60 yards (I read and took to heart your direction on coaching the boys to pick up fumbles).

Combining that with an 80 yard KO return for a TD resulted in a 20 - 8 ( We let one pass play get away from us) win against a team that had beaten us two previous times (8-0 and 6-0).

In the Superbowl we will face a team that is 7-0 averaging 21 points a game. They beat us twice, the second time the score was 6-0. Should be fun.

Thanks again for sharing your time tested strategies.

The GAM is the definitive defense for youth football

Dan Sipe
Defensive Coordinator
LUYAA U-12 I 70
Mr. Reed,

I just wanted to thank you for your assistance in my now complete youth football coaching career. I implemented a tailored version of your GAM defense in 2003, my first year of coaching youth football. Our teams went 42-3 and won 4 championships. We gave up only 102 points in five years. I helped a younger age group implement this defense this year and they were able to win the championship. Your books are well written, cover almost everything a coach could ask, and provide a solid foundation for a great youth football defense.

Thanks again,
Scott Shelton

John, Just thought I would pass on that we won our league Championship on Saturday. We started our season losing the first two games. The head coach and I had never coached youth football before and really were not sure of what we were doing. After I put in the Gam and we began putting our best athletes in the right position we never lost another game. We came back and made the playoffs and then beat the two teams that beat us in regular season to win it all. 

I enjoyed your book on defense and have ordered your book for the single wing offense.

It was very helpful to be able to send a few emails to you for more explanation. Thank you.
You can certainly quote me. Your book was excellent and it won us the championship.

Thank you,

Ben Berriochoa


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, your 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

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

Coach Reed,

Thanks for your defensive books.

I am a second year defensive coach for U-12. Last year after four games, we had given up 130 points. This year its 32 and we just had our first shut out. In addition, we blocked a punt to give the offense the ball on the two for a 6-0 win against our arch rivals. (Our record is 3-1, last year we were 0-4 at the same point)

We are still working on our tackling (half of our players are first year) but the GAM delivers players to the point of attack better than any system I have seen. Thanks for sharing it.

Dan Sipe

Loyal client and believer


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

Please go to part 3