Friday, September 14, 2007


September 14 2007

By Jimmy Durkin
Oakland Tribune

PIEDMONT -- No, it's not illegal.

That's the answer to your first question when you see hosting Piedmont High line up in its new offense against non-league opponent Truckee tonight at 7.

Fashioned by coach Kurt Bryan and director of football operations Steve Humphries, and cultivated by the entire Highlanders coaching staff, Piedmont is bringing innovation to the field this season with the A-11 offense.

The name A-11, short for "all 11 players potentially eligible" was changed from the original name of Planet Pluto, which was based on the fact that the concept was "so far out there."

With two quarterbacks, three lineman and six receivers, it's a formation unlike any other.Bryan first started developing the A-11 with his staff more than a year ago when he signed on for his second term as head coach at his alma mater (he also led the Highlanders from 1994-96).

"During last offseason, Humphries said, 'What do you think about a two quarterback offense?'" Bryan recalled. "I thought the only way for it to be worthwhile was to have all 11 (players) potentially eligible (as receivers). That way, the defense only has one to three seconds to react."

But before the staff could begin coaching the offense, it had to learn it.

"(It started) with Kurt and I standing outside his driveway with a little football," said quarterbacks coach Pete Schneider, a standout wide receiver for the Highlanders during the Drew Olsen era. "We had to learn how to receive the snap and when to receive the snap."

The key to making the offense legal is at least one of the quarterbacks lining up 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, technically making it a scrimmage kick formation.

The base formation has three receivers on each side who will shift in any number of ways so there are seven players on the line of scrimmage at the snap. For one of the offensive lineman to be eligible, they must be wearing an eligible number (1-49, 80-99) and not have another receiver on the line of scrimmage outside of them.

"It's the next step in the evolution of the game," Bryan said. "And we said 'Why not do it at Piedmont?'"

Time will tell how successful the scheme will be. In last week's opener against Campolindo, Piedmont's offense was limited to 126 yards of total offense in a 31-2 loss.

"We made some key mistakes early in the game, which really hurt," Bryan said. "We are young, this is a new system and even though it is frustrating, we know there is a steep learning curve and it is part of the process.

"However, now that we further know and understand how teams will defend the A-11, it will make it easier for our program to adapt and game plan."

For the pessimists out there who question if one bad week is enough to make Piedmont scrap its plans, Humphries said this: "We're committed 1,000 percent. We're making a major commitment. From the lowest levels up to the varsity level, the system is in place."