Seekonk Warriors Implementing New Offensive System
Growing pains were a given for Seekonk football this year. In the offseason, they experienced a coaching change, lost almost the entire offensive line, and began to implement an offensive system that is the polar opposite of its predecessor.
“The kids are picking it up,” says new Head Coach Vernon Crawford. The coach believes in his new system and says it will pick up steam as it goes. “I’ll give you four years. Every high school is going to run it, because it’s simple,” the coach said with respect to how the new system might play in the South Coast Conference.
Seekonk is off to a dismal start at 0-3, and being outscored nearly 3-1 in those three contests. However, there were three game stretches under the previous “wing-T” offense (even stretches that included wins) where Seekonk scored less than the 24 points they’ve managed this season.
Fans will notice many similarities and differences at games this season. The new Seekonk running game looks similar to the old Seekonk running game. “It is more misdirection, but it’s based on reads,” says starting quarterback Nick Lancellotti.
The running attack looks like the old one, but on seemingly every play, Lancellotti has the option to keep the ball and head in the opposite direction of the designed play if his read tells him to do so. For fans of college football, this read-option type of running will look very familiar.
The passing game is vastly different, starting with its sheer volume. “Coach has emphasized a lot that our gameplan is more of a combination of running and passing,” says Lancellotti. “I would say maybe 60-70% to 30-40%,” he added, indicating that the gameplan tends to be pass-heavy.
More intricately, the Crawford passing game differs from the wing-T in what it asks of skill position players. “The wing-T is more scan the field. This one is scan and analyze the field,” says Lancellotti. “There’s that extra step that you have to go through and really have the mind and the knowledge of where you’re supposed to go when this happens,” the signal-caller added.
I had an opportunity to sit in on some practices, and observed that they are perhaps the biggest difference between the current and previous systems. The team is separated for a much larger percentage of practice time than it once was. Quarterbacks and receiving targets practice “7-on-7” for hours at a time.
These are passing game practice sessions where players develop a rapport for game day. In them, players ask questions they never considered under the previous system. In one practice session, freshmen team coach Bobby Jeannotte sends a blitzer (with no one blocking him) at his quarterback. Receivers are expected to adjust their routes accordingly, reading the blitz and compensating to help their quarterback. This scenario went almost un-practiced in the wing-T system.
Lancellotti says his teammates find this system to be more enjoyable. “In one play you could run at least twelve different plays off of it based on what the defense does,” says Lancellotti. “It’s a little bit more spontaneous and they get to do what they want with what they get,” he says of his receivers, who are being asked to truly read the entire field for the first time in their careers.
The big question that remains about the new system is if it will be adapted seamlessly. Crawford’s predecessor, Jack Whalen, was instrumental in installing the wing-T not only at the high school level, but also throughout youth football in town. He worked with Seekonk Junior Warriors to build the wing-T into all of the youth offenses these players ran throughout their childhood.
Members of Seekonk Junior Warrior leadership sat down with Crawford this summer to discuss the transition. They were willing to help, but do not intend to install the high school offense at all levels. “You can’t ask some of our youngest kids to throw the ball that much,” said Jim Lamoureux, a coach and Football Coordinator for Seekonk Junior Warriors. He added that the sheer volume and distance of throws required by Crawford’s offense would lead to failure for youth teams, and likely turn talented youngsters away from the quarterback position.