Friday, April 10, 2009

Revolution Revisited*

*This is a reprint of the 1st article every posted on Arkansas 7-on-7 Football. We bring it back now as we are preparing to start a new season. Based on our site statistics, it is unlikely that most of our visitors today read that inaugural post.


The editors of this blog have been watching Arkansas High School Football since the late 1980's. When our observations started, the passing game was a necessary evil to most football teams. The key to winning games early in this time frame (1987-1997) was to run the ball effectively and win the time of possession battle. The most successful teams fell into two broad categories: (1) power or (2) speed. Both categories were just distinctions between the type of running plays that the coach liked to call. Most coaches believed the adage, "Only three can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad."

The power teams typically used the I-formation of various flavors and ran right at the defense with big tailbacks and basically offensive guards playing fullback. The Cabot Panthers are an example of a team that came right at you with a Power I. They simply wanted 3.5 yards on every play. Opponents of the good teams in this category would find themselves physically dominated and battered by the 4th quarter.

The speed teams usually ran some type of option game at you and tried to isolate the corner. The option came in all kinds of flavors: wishbone, wing-T, and slot I to name a few. The Fordyce Redbugs and Pine Bluff Zebras are examples of teams that would rather run around you than through you. The goods teams in this category made opponents feel like they were at a track meet with inferior athletes and the speed could dominate you psychologically.

In the mid 1990's, a quiet change occurred around the high schools of Arkansas. Suddenly, a new offensive philosophy that didn't care about that two of the things that could happen when you throw the ball are "bad." The spread passing game appeared with great success brought in most notably by Ronnie Peacock's Greenwood Bulldogs, Barry Lunney's Southside Rebels, and Gus Malzahn's Shiloh Christian Saints. Each of these coaches brought state titles to their schools and each have moved on to other opportunities. However, their imprint on Arkansas high school football can be seen at schools all over the state with varying degrees of success from three-peat state champions (Greenwood and Nashville) to teams struggling to win more than a couple of games (Parkview and Alma for example).

What began as a "gimmick" offense to many around Arkansas high school football circles has been a revolutionary way of playing football at this level. When implemented correctly, it is a fun atmosphere for the players and fans running the system and a nightmare for opposing coaches trying to prepare for it.

One side effect of the explosion of the spread passing game is the appearance of 7-on-7 football games, leagues, and tournaments. These teams spend much of the summer perfecting timing, learning plays, and conditioning in a way that the running teams of old didn't imagine. This blog will be dedicated to keeping the 7-on-7 players, coaches, and fans up-to-date on the happenings in the world of 7-on-7 football in Arkansas.

So, thanks for stopping by to see what these high powered offensive showcases are doing. We hope that you will return again and again. If you have updates on 7-on-7 tournaments and leagues that you don't see here, please email them to us at

Ground rules for comments:
  • Please do not try to use this blog to disparage players or coaches. We are supportive of the effort that these people put forward to play, officiate, and coach in these 7-on-7 competitions.
  • If you have a different view, we would love to hear it, but please be respectful. We would be willing to publish alternative views of the 7-on-7 phenomenon as long as you can make a logical case.
  • Let us know how we can make this blog better.

*Originally posted May 3, 2008.