The WIAA football playoffs begin tonight all across the state. Last year at this time, I went on a rant about how too many teams make the playoffs (214)--forcing kids to play three games in 11-days which increases their risk for injury. I still hold those beliefs--even as the WIAA considers expanding the playoff field even further.
This year I thought I would sing the praises of what I like about high school football: the incredible variety. This is especially true on the offensive side of the ball where this year alone I have done games with teams running the T formation, the flex-bone, the double wing, fullhouse backfield, Power I, pro set, spread and spread option. If you travel to the UP you would find teams running the single wing and the wing T--dinosaurs walking among us. About the only offense I haven't seen in a while is the true wishbone. I think coaches can't stomach the idea of their quarterbacks throwing forty pitches to running backs every night.
I like the great variety of players you see on the high school field as well. I've seen teams play with a 180-pound center lining up against a 265-pound defensive lineman. Where else can a five-foot-five running back dominate a night, or a 185-pound middle linebacker that hits like a 250-pounder?
Now if we could just find more kickers. There's no reason half the teams I've seen this year should have an offensive lineman kicking straight-on in the 21st century. Or having teams go for it on fourth and ten at the opponents 15-yard line because no one can make a 33-yard field goal.
So why not take time to catch a high school football playoff game the next few weeks. The price is usually less than five bucks. You'll see stuff that long ago went away on Saturday and Sunday games. And there will be more of them than we need this week.