I’ll have MUCH more posted on this later today, as I’ve been spending the past couple of days looking into all of this and talking to people at the state and national level. But today, Piedmont filed a dual petition seeking a) a three-year test period where the A-11 could be used and examined to determine if it should remain legal OR b) for the CIF to decide to not follow NFHS rules regarding the numbering exception, thus reverting back to the rules as they were before that kept the A-11 legal and giving up the state’s seat on football advisory committee. (Precedent for that comes in the form of Texas and Massachusetts not following NFHS football rules and California not following the national rule of not using a shot clock in basketball).
Again, I’ll post much more on this when I’ve completed my story for tomorrrow’s paper. But I know we’ve got a lot of folks who love to talk A-11 so have at it.
UPDATED: Here is my story for tomorrow’s paper.
By Jimmy Durkin
The saga of the A-11 Offense isn’t over. It may be just beginning.
A two-part petition from Piedmont High principal Randall Booker seeking to keep the A-11 legal was released Thursday to the California Interscholastic Federation and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“In an effort to reach an honorable compromise between small to mid-size schools participating in 11-man tackle football in the (CIF) and the (NFHS), please review the following proposed ‘Experiment’,” the petition reads.
The A-11, created by Piedmont coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries in 2007, became illegal when the NFHS Football Rules Committee approved a clarification of the jersey numbering exception rule, requiring at least four players to wear a non-eligible number (50-79).
The A-11, in which all 11 players are potentially eligible receivers, is run from a scrimmage kick formation in which at least one potential receiver of the snap is positioned seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. In that formation, all players wear an eligible receiver’s number (1-49, 80-99), and formation shifts create seemingly endless combinations of eligible receivers.
Piedmont’s petition calls for a three-year experiment with the non-eligible number requirement being limited to three players and for the state and NFHS to review the effect the offense has on safety, fairness, enjoyment of the game and problems it poses for game officals.The petition’s secondary option asks the CIF not to recognize the NFHS rules, a move that would vacate the CIF’s seat on the NFHS rules committee — something the CIF has done in basketball with its use of a shot clock.
“We expect the CIF to pay attention to the fact on the ground as reported by the overwhelming majority of officials, coaches, players and fans to see the A-11 is good for the smaller schools that have an entirely different set of problems,” said Bryan, the head coach. “We expect an honorable compromise and to meet them in the middle.”
The general reason given for the NFHS rule change was to clarify why the numbering exception was added to the rule book in 1982.
“The reason for the exception being put in in the first place is most teams don’t have somebody who is capable of snapping the ball to a punter, except for a second-string quarterback or someone along those lines,” said Steve Stearns, the CIF’s football rule interpreter and the state’s NFHS voting representative.
“So they figured out a way that guy can get in the game with an eligible number and can be an interior lineman. Also, usually the guys that have eligible numbers are a little quicker and can get down the field faster to cover the punt. That was the reason the exception was put in. It wasn’t put there so someone could base an entire offensive scheme around it.”
CIF Executive Director Marie Ishida said she plans to meet with Booker, the Piedmont principal, on Monday and that Bryan will be invited to make a presentation at the next CIF football advisory committee meeting in the fall. Ishida said timing prevented earlier discussions between Piedmont and the advisory committee.
“When we have individuals send us different proposal, we do not as a state forward that proposal (to the NFHS),” Ishida said. “We forward that to our advisory committee for input. At the time we got the proposal from Coach Bryan (in 2007), the committee had already met. When it came up at our last meeting, because the NFHS committee had just met, our advisory committee did not take a position. We were waiting to see what the NFHS would do.”
Piedmont hopes the next step allows it a chance to prove the offense is fair and, more importantly, safe.
“In two years of using the A-11, Piedmont players have not suffered a catastrophic injury, and most of the other A-11 teams nationwide have reported similar results,” said Humphries, the offensive coordinator. “The state would be well-served to look at the reduced injury rate.”