Is this football?
Quarterbacks who never take a snap. Fullbacks who do and then often pirouette 360 degrees with the ball. Tailbacks who must be able to both run and pass. Quick kicks? O.K. But fake quick kicks? Quick kicks on first down?
This is a revival meeting. For three days in June, 38 men from every corner of the country assemble in Manitou Springs, Colo., for the second National Single Wing Football Symposium. There they probe the potential and extol the virtues of an offense so old that few people under 50 can say they've seen it in action. But the congregation in Colorado displays the enthusiasm of Viagra converts. Especially the guy wearing a THE DINOSAUR LIVES T-shirt. They have come to talk of full-spinner series and buck laterals. To share success stories. To stand up and be counted.
Bill Jache, San Diego: "My Pop Warner team is 60-4-1 in the last five years. Last year we won the national championship."
Tim Black, Englewood, Colo.: "Our pee-wee team went undefeated last season. In 10 games we attempted eight passes. Seven went for touchdowns."
Norris Patterson, William Jewell College, Liberty, Mo., retired: "We were 132-34 in 18 years with the single wing."
Jerry Carle, Colorado College, retired: "46-7-1 in six seasons."
Most of those in attendance are playbook-thumping converts. A few, such as Carle, Patterson and Marv Wetzel (Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado, retired), are old enough that they grew up playing the single wing. One group, the seven-man staff from Parkview High in Sterling, Va., is contemplating a leap of faith.
The single wing features four backs—a fullback and tailback, positioned side-by-side 4� yards behind center and either available to take the snap; a quarterback, who lines up directly behind the strong-side tackle in an unbalanced line; and a wingback, who lines up on the outside shoulder of the tight end. There are no wide receivers.
The tailback is the most important player in the single wing because of his dual role as passer and runner, but the center also plays a crucial role in the offense. He must be able to unfailingly snap the ball to either the fullback or tailback with the dead-eye accuracy of a sniper. Once the ball is snapped, the tailback typically runs off tackle or around end escorted by a convoy of linemen and other backs as blockers, but over the years deception has been added to the formation, which sometimes finds the four backs moving in a dizzying choreography of feints, spins and quick cuts designed to befuddle the defense.