Teams with Wing T offenses have won Georgia’s highest classification seven of the past 10 years.
North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said this week that you might not see another one.
Prince Avenue Christian coach Jeff Herron disagreed. Herron won three state titles at Camden County using a Wing T offense. (Grayson and Lowndes won the other four with Wing T offenses since 2003.)
I spoke with both coaches this week on the subject. I’ll just let the quotes speak for themselves -
From Sphire –
“A simplistic offense like the Graysons or Camdens or Lowndes is predicated on being a defensive-dominated football team with an offense that compliments that with physicality and controlling the clock. Think about those teams that have had success. It’s really been defensive-first. That’s why they won.’’
”It’s evolved to where moving forward it’s going to be hard to win a state championship with that approach unless you are just absolutely more talented. If it’s fairly close in talent, that approach in today’s time is going to be difficult. They can still win a big individualized game, but to win for five weeks, it’s going to be difficult in today’s time.’’
‘’Having been Wing T and option guy in the past, the only way we could win (a state championship) was to be the most talented team. Today’s spread offenses give you a chance to win a game against a team more talented. Most of the time we’re not the most talented team overall. We’re not going to win many combine competitions if that’s what is going to be evaluated. As far as the ability to attack, our system has given us a chance.’’
OK, before we to Herron, let’s make sure everyone knows what we’re talking about.
A Wing T offense employs three running backs and often runs the ball 80 percent of the time or more. Lowndes, for example, had 2,530 yards rushing this season and 812 passing with 554 rushing attempts and 105 passing attempts. Camden County scored 642 points – a state record in the highest class – using the Wing T in 2009.
The spread offense uses three or four wide receivers and typically, but not always, gets more yardage from passing. North Gwinnett, for example, has 3,250 yards passing, 2,036 rushing, and has 369 passing attempts, 371 rushing attempts. North Gwinnett is averaging 39.5 points per game.
OK, now for Herron’s rebuttal –
‘’While I think Bob is a great coach and has done a tremendous job, I just can’t agree with him. I think I have history on my side of the argument. My first point would be that I have always said that defense wins championships. It seems we agree on that point. However, I also feel that the more physical teams usually win championships and I don’t believe that being a pass-first team leads to physicality on defense. Sort of like being really good at 7 on 7. The reason we run the Wing-T and many teams run the option is that we feel those offenses are equalizers in talent; a further example would be the military academies. If you are a spread team that likes to throw and you don’t have a QB what do you do? And, even more importantly would be the fact that I believe being a run first team on offense makes your entire team have a more physical approach to the game.”
‘’I have watched North Gwinnett play twice this year and I think they have one of their best teams. But, I believe the running back they have (C.J. Leggett) and his physicality is the reason. I would also argue that come playoff time when the weather and field conditions get worse the running and defensive minded teams have an advantage. I will admit that playing the championships in the dome, which I personally don’t agree with, does help spread teams though.’’
‘’Look at the SEC and look at Georgia’s highest classifications. With few exceptions the most championships have been won by teams that can physically run the ball and play great defense. Norcross won it last year because they played great defense and Alvin Kamara was a special running back. Until I see a pass happy teams consistently win championships I will continue to believe in running the football, controlling the clock, and playing great defense and special teams.’’
What do you think?
And where does Norcross fit in all this? Guess I should mention that North Gwinnett plays Norcross for the AAAAAA title on Saturday.
Sphire views Norcross’ schemes and philosophy as more modern and sophisticated. It is a team that wants to establish the run first, but Norcross can and will spread the field at times, usually in a two-back formation. Norcross also has superior talent on defense, another quality of many state championship teams.
So, is the spread the future? Is the writing on the wall for Wing T teams in the highest classification?