Barry Sebren’s infatuation with the Wing-T began in 1992.
Sebren was in the early stages of his coaching career working as a graduate assistant at ULM — then NLU — under Dave Roberts. He stood on the sidelines and watched as Tubby Raymond’s Delaware Blue Hens ripped through the Indians with the Wing-T in a 41-18 Division I-AA quarterfinal playoff loss.
It’s been his offense ever since. At least until this year.
Franklin Parish’s need a practical solution to the problem of a complex Wing-T playbook. Sebren found the answer by reaching into the past and coming back with the split-back veer.
“The Wing-T is a complicated offense, at least the way we ran it because we asked our running backs to be blockers,” Sebren said. “When we had guys like Deon White or Marcus Bingham, they’re runners they aren’t blockers, so I said, ‘Why are we asking those guys to block so much?’
“This to me is much simpler and it makes it easy on the kids. We’re just asking our running backs to run and our offensive linemen to block.”
The split-back veer was once a staple in the eclectic offensive tastes of football coaches in northeast Louisiana.
Dell Ashley’s Sterlington Panthers went 111-34, won five district titles and made two Superdome appearances in 11 years running the offense.
It’s remained prominent in south Louisiana thanks to the exploits of Acadiana High — winner of two Class 5A state championships since 2006.
MAIS school Riverfield hired veteran assistant coach Boyd Cole — who was Ashley’s offensive line coach and later the offensive coordinator under successor Mike Collins — to be its head coach in January.
One of the first moves he made was to junk predecessor Robert Newsom’s spread offense and install the split-back.
“I’m not smart enough to run the spread. I guess that makes me old school,” Cole said. “My philosophy is the same as Dell’s in that I want to be close at halftime and wear you out in the second half. This offense is perfect for that.”
The split-back veer’s genetic makeup is similar to its cousin the wishbone in that the focal point is the play that gives it its name — the veer triple option.
The quarterback comes to the line with both backs lined up behind the guards — hence the split-back — and is responsible for two reads on the play. His first read is an interior defender along the line of scrimmage, which will determine if he gives the ball to the fullback or keeps it down the line of scrimmage.
The second read involves the first defender that shows past the line. If he takes the quarterback, then he’ll pitch it to the trailing halfback.
If he takes the halfback, then the quarterback keeps the ball and cuts up the field.
Sebren was drawn to the offense because it’s option-based like the Wing-T, but allows the coach more flexibility in taking advantage of his personnel — namely sophomore Gary Fletcher, who lines up at the “X” receiver for Franklin Parish.
“Now we can get him the ball in different spots and line him up in different places. We couldn’t do that with the Wing-T,” Sebren said. “The beauty is we didn’t have to change our communication system. It’s the same numbering and the same verbiage, just different formations.”
Riverfield is off to a solid start in the offense after jamboree wins over Riverdale 14-0 and Claiborne Academy 19-0. Cole said the biggest transition in the offense is getting his offensive players to be patient with their “touches.”
“You go into a jamboree with ‘dive left’ and ‘dive right’ installed and that’s about it, but our kids have to understand there’s only one football,” Cole said.
“They’re unselfish and they have to be in this offense because if the defense is giving us a certain play, we’ll keep running it and running it.”
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