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An off-tackle kick return: a four-tier alignment with huge possibilities.

When Farmington H.S. decided to format its kick return, it set out to find something that would be both effective and easy to teach.

After a lot of thinking and a little trial and error, it came up with a return based on the same concepts as an off-tackle running play - that is, a double-team at the point of attack and a kick-out of the end defensive man.

The return proved extremely effective in enhancing our field position and adding a big-play threat that could change the momentum of the game.

Diag. 1 shows the positioning of the players in their 4-tier alignment.

In the front row (ends, tackles, and center), we look for good athletes who can run, since they will be called upon to sprint the farthest to execute their blocks.

They set up across the 47-yard line, making sure to stay equi-distant apart to prevent any gaps on on-side kicks. All five players face the kicker and make sure the ball is kicked deep before sprinting to their blocking assignments.

The two players in the second row (left guard and right guard) are outside-linebacker type athletes who are capable of running across the field for a kick-out block.

They align at the 35-yard line facing the kicker, halfway between the hashmark and the sideline.

The two players in the third row (left up-back and right up-back) are good athletes who can both block and run the ball.

They align anywhere between the 20 and 25-yard lines, depending upon the kicker's leg, two yards outside the hashmark.

The two players in the fourth row (left deep back and right deep back) are the two players most capable of making the big play. They must be fearless and able to hold on to the football.

They align just outside the hashmarks, anywhere between the 5 and 10-yard lines, depending on the kicker's leg.

Diag. 2 shows the blocking assignments for Return Right.

First and foremost, the players in each row must make sure that the kick clears their area before moving into their blocking assignments.

The first row of players, starting from the call side, sprint to the 35-yard line, taking appropriate angles to attack the rushers at points #3 and #8, respectively.

The players responsible for blocking at #3 and #8, and #6 - RT, RG, and C - must pin their men to the inside.

The players on the backside responsible for blocking at #7 and #8 (LT and LE) must take cut-off angles and make sure their opponents do not cross their faces.

The far man in the second row (LG) is responsible for coming across the field and kicking out defender #1, while the blocker on the call side (RG) is pinning #4 to the inside.

The two third-row players (LU and RU) are responsible for double-teaming #2, pinning him to the inside on or near the 30-yard line.

Note: We teach the third-row player on the call side (RU) to hold out his inside hand and wait for his partner (LU) before attacking #2.

The two kick receivers in the last row (LD and RD) are responsible for communicating with each other and securing the football. The player who does not receive the kick (RD) must cut off any free defensive man coming from the backside.

The kick-return man (LD) will sprint inside the kick-out block at #1 and off the outside hip of the double-team at #2.

Diag. 3 delineates our reverse off Return Right. The blocking assignments in the two plays are almost identical. The only difference is that the third-row men (LU and RU) do not double-team at #2.

The player to the call side (RU) will pin #2 inside alone, while the RD will catch the kick and start coming around to the left. Meanwhile, LU will swing around to his right behind the ball-carrier (RD).

Note: The deep back who receives the kick must always run inside the opposite up-back to whom he is going to hand the ball. The pass is made back with the near hand.

Thus, in this Return Right Reverse, RD will hand back to LU with his left hand, while on the Return Left Reverse, LD would pass back to RU with his right hand.
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Title Annotation:football
Author:Dembinski, Tom
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Aug 1, 1997
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