Fascinating story in the California Bay Area, where Piedmont High School football coach Kurt Bryan has exploited a loophole in the rulebook to develop an entirely new offensive scheme, which he has dubbed the "A-11." The wide-open formation features two quarterbacks, and makes every offensive player on the field receiver-eligible (they all wear uniform numbers in the receiver-eligible range).
Because both quarterbacks stand seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, and because there’s no one under center, the formation is under the rules a legal kicking formation. But you don’t have to actually kick the ball when you line up in a kicking formation (otherwise, fake kicks would be prohibited).
The offense has befuddled both defenses and referees, and has allowed tiny Piedmont to stay competitive with much larger high schools. The genius of the offense lies in the number of options it opens up for the offense, which makes it much more difficult to defend. From the New York Times:
According to Scientific American magazine, a standard football formation permits 36 possible scenarios for taking the snap and advancing the ball; with the A-11, the possibilities multiply to 16,632, providing a controlled randomness to the offense and potentially devastating chaos to the defense. Even the center becomes eligible to catch a pass if he is at the end of the line of scrimmage.
Detractors say the offense is gimmicky, and not real football. Of course, detractors once said the same thing about the forward pass. One critic calls the A-11 "deceptive and unsporting." But misdirection and trick plays have always been part of football. Witness the gimmickry in the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl from a couple of years ago—arguably the greatest college football game of all time. Or the resurgence of the Wildcat formation in the NFL this year.
It’s not yet even clear if the A-11 will give offenses a lasting advantage, or if coaches will eventually figure out how to defend it. Seems a little early to talk about banning it.
But so far, ten states have done exactly that. And more may follow next year, when the National Federation of State High School Associations may address the issue.
Here are some clips of the A-11 in action: