The A-11 Offense

Submitted by BlindRef on August 16th, 2008 at 11:14 AM

As my name indicates, I am a high school referee.  I just attended a high school rules meeting this morning where the A-11 offense was discussed.


Here is the MHSAA interpretation of the A-11 offense.


The offense is mostly legal due to the Scrimmage Kick excemption.  Which means that during a normal punt or field goal play all the numbering rules are thrown out the window.  In order for a formation to be defined as a scrimmage kick, you must have at least 1 player lined up 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.


As long as those requirements are met, you can run these crazy formations with every player wearing an eligible number.  However, the eligible receiver rules still apply.


-Only 5 guys can go downfield still.  

 -Recievers that are lined up on the line of scrimmage cannot have another player outside of them also on the line of scrimmage

-the remaining 3 eligible receivers must be behind the line of scrimmage.


This will cause headaches for officials and defenses who will need to keep track of which 5 guys are allowed to catch the ball.  But, it will also put a lot of pressure on the offense to make sure they have at least one guy 7 years behind the line of scrimmage.  I know as an official I will hit the team witha 15 yard penalty for illegal numbers if that guy is only 6.5 yards back.

I am hoping that the NFHS will look into a way to make this offense illegal, there is a good reason why we make lineman have different numbers than recievers.


I hope that helps. 





August 16th, 2008 at 12:47 PM ^

hope they make it illegal, too. I think the A-ll is just a gimmick. I may be a little biased, though, I used to be an O-Lineman. It seems to me that the A-11 gets rid of using the O-Line.


August 16th, 2008 at 1:06 PM ^

A non wacky number version of the A11 has been around for a really long time. 2 guys split on the left hash, 3 guys in the middle, 2 guys on the right hash for your 7 on the LOS. The 3 in the middle are lineman, as are the 2 covered guys on the hashes. The 2 outside guys usually were tight ends. 1 WR or RB behind the hash guys, then a QB with a RB set to one side. This was mainly a gimmick offense that you could throw out there to try and get a 2 point conversion or something and hope the D is to confused or spreads itself too thin in 1 area. At a level beyond HS, I doubt it would work very well.


August 16th, 2008 at 3:48 PM ^

the offense you are refering to is the old florida spread, been a around forever, not really like the a-11 becasue it does have 5 inelligble numbers on the field, they are just spread out.... we beat a team 56-0 that tried to run that against us last year.

about MHSAA, why are you having your rules meeting only a week or two before the season starts?

Im glad north carolina is a little more proactive, and already said that the a-11 is bs..... how can you interpret a free kick situation to be on any down, just becasue one person is more than 7 yards deep? the rule clearly is a two part rule "kicking situation" and "7 yards deep"

glad im not in michigan athletics anymore.


August 16th, 2008 at 4:58 PM ^

Under National Federation rules this is the ONLY way the A-11 can be run.  Most high school federations use these rules.  I don't know what is going on in California nor do I want to be in a position to judge 'kicking situation' since limiting it to only 4th Down or end of quarters doesn't act within the spirit of the game.



August 17th, 2008 at 1:20 AM ^


I'm glad you feel this "offense" is cracked and should be made explicitly illegal - which can be accomplished by simply eliminating the "kicking situation/7 yards" exception (and glad to see that you, to this point, will be enforcing the rules as your state association has instructed and not making them up as some officials seem to do.) 

I do want to respond to one point you make:

"nor do I want to be in a position to judge 'kicking situation' since
limiting it to only 4th Down or end of quarters doesn't act within the
spirit of the game."

It would seem simple to judge kicking situations - if it is theoretically advantageous for the offense to kick, that's a kicking situation (4th down punts, field goal range,

but like you I don't really care for rules that only apply in certain designated situations. I don't like these last-two-minutes-of-the-half rules either.

But as to the "spirit of the game," the A-11 violates that more than any official's judgment. It is intentionally deceptive to the defense in a way wholly apart from misdirection offenses like the fly, Wing-T and double wing, by causing the defense to be ignorant as to the personnel grouping. (Charlie Weis knows all about 'different personnel groups,' he must have invented it when he invented the passing game).

That deception is my major opposition to it. You can't have 12 men in the huddle because it (as the rules dictate) unfairly deprives the defense of knowledge of the personnel group. The A-11 does the same, only in a much more diverse 6-of-11 set instead of a 5-of-6. 

I also believe it places an unreasonable burden on the officials running the game (to detemine illegal downfield etc), but you'd have to tell me more about that from your perspective. 

Eric, despite interviewing the coaches (who are REALLY patting themselves on the back about this) I'm not sure you're really on top of what makes the A-11 the A-11. Fake punts and fake field goals are legal as long as they are runs or thrown to eligible receivers. What the A-11 does is allow the offense to deceive the defense as to who is actually eligible by taking advantage of a rule that permits interior players to wear eligible numbers. Then the offense can deploy any six of those as potential ballcarriers - this is dependent on the refs pretending that every play is a possible "kicking situation" as if the game was rugby (which the A-11 resembles).

The nexus of the A-11, and the allegedly unsportsmanlike act, is deploying 11 players with eligible numbers, and giving the defense only a second before the snap to determine who is actually eligible and who is not. That's the only thing that's actually new in this scheme (everything else is 60 years old), and what people like me want made illegal.

There's one other thing - Piedmont has had some really strong defenses the last few years, which always helps an offense get going. But playing against a flag-football O in practice sure as heck doesn't get a bunch of high schoolers ready to play serious defense. I predict PHS' defensive prowess will be declining in the next year or so, unless they have some exceptional defensive coaches.


August 16th, 2008 at 7:42 PM ^

The free kick rule, was intended as a way to get more athletic kids ont he field in kicking situations. THe "spirit" or the rule was not to create a unfair advantage by taking advantage of an "excpetion" not a rule of the game. The misconduct rule clearly states that using loopholes is not permited. Im proud of the NCHSAA


its not a new offense, its a gimick usuing a loophole, that will be closed up in the next year or so, i wouldnt buy all the dvd's on it just yet....

Eric (not verified)

August 16th, 2008 at 11:33 PM ^

My only question is how will it be considered illegal? The problem with this stuff is that it has to be uniform. If you say the A-11 is illegal, then won't fake punts or field goals be illegal as well?

In reply to by Eric (not verified)


August 17th, 2008 at 6:57 PM ^

Making the A11 illegal wouldn't really affect fake punts or field goals. Assuming the exception was done away with, there would be no problem with running a fake as long as the regular eligibility rules are followed (which you would have to do on actual punts and kicks as well). If you limit it to "obvious kicking situations" or use similar language, there shouldn't be any change in fakes at all.


August 18th, 2008 at 9:32 AM ^

"...there is a good reason why we make lineman have different numbers than recievers."

And that reason is what, precisely? Is it just a logistical issue, making it practical for the refs to monitor for ineligible receivers? Or is it a balance issue, making it practical for the defense to maintain coverage? Both, neither, other reason, etc.?