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When an opposing quarterback steps under center against the Columbus East or Columbus North football teams, he isn’t likely to have a Bobby Fischer moment.
According to the coaches, it’s no chess match.
Neither local defensive coordinator puts an emphasis on trying to trick a quarterback.
North defensive coordinator Jason Perry said that solid fundamental means more than matching wits against an offense.
“Low pads, square shoulder pads, quick feet,” Perry said, rattling off the things he deems most important. “You’re not going to outsmart anybody.”
As offenses get more sophisticated at the high school level, the North and East defenses have remained with tried-and-true formulas.
“I didn’t invent the 4-3 defense,” Perry said. “It has withstood the test of time. That defense has not gone anywhere.”
An offense might routinely shift into a couple of different formations and players often go into motion. Quarterbacks scrap the play picked by the coach and audible to something different. Offensive playbooks continue to get thicker.
“The offense has the pen last,” Perry said. “So we try to give them as vanilla a look as possible on defense.”
East defensive coordinator Eddie Vogel agreed that he doesn’t want to get over-complicated with his system, having players jumping all around just before the snap.
“It really comes down to getting ourselves lined up to be successful,” he said. “We have to find a balance, especially when you are still learning. We’re still trying to get lined up correctly.”
Olympians head coach Bob Gaddis said a coach can get so caught up in trying to make last-second shifts at the line, that his own defense isn’t ready for any play.
“We don’t want to trick ourselves,” Gaddis said. “We just want to do a good job disguising our coverage. Are we rolling our corners down or playing them soft? We blitz quite a bit, so will we show a blitz and not go, or not show a blitz and then go?”
Vogel said that the East defense most likely would show more movement before the snap if it were facing a team with a passing quarterback who had several good wide receivers.
“Coverage-wise, we might want them to think we are in a cover two or a man when really we are playing zone,” he said.
In general, though, opponents know what they are getting defensively when they face North and East.
That doesn’t mean that the defenses aren’t ready to react to any offensive play that comes their direction.
“You can scout opponents so much better now,” Gaddis said. “You look into an offense’s tendencies. Coach Vogel spends countless hours, starting on Saturday, watching tape.” You hone in on what you think is important and what you think you can teach your guys. Then when they do see a formation, they know what the percentage of time they will run this play or this one or this one. It’s pretty amazing.”
Perry said that the preparation before the game, such as conditioning, weight room training and film work, is more important than jumping around before the snap.
“We try to avoid reinventing ourselves every week,” Perry said. “So we work hard to review formations and tendencies. But it still comes down to being a football player.”
North, 0-2, travels to Bloomington North for its Conference Indiana opener at 7:30 tonight. East hosts Seymour in its Hoosier Hills Conference opener tonight at 7.
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