The Wingbuster. I imagine when the approximately 300 or so former Tiger football players from that era in Clay County, KS hear those two words, it brings a sly smile to their faces. The Wingbuster was a football defense we packaged and the kids bought into in order to stop one of the most dangerous football offenses we faced, the Double Wing. This Double Wing offense run to perfection by an area school, Rock Creek High School.
The Wingbuster was so big, such an obsession for me, it will take a series of blog posts to try and give it justice. I probably spent a solid six months of my life researching, scouting, designing, presenting and thinking about this defense.
To understand the Wingbuster, one must first understand the motivation behind the obsession. Perhaps we should start with a one little detail about me; I don’t like to lose. Period. Fear of losing is a great motivator. Do the work, give it your very best effort whether player or coach. Do everything you can within the limits of the rules to win. It is an excellent driving force.
I like Rock Creek High School. I really respect their head coach, Mike Beam, his coaching staff and the way they go about their business. But that offense, that stinking off-the-wall, need-at-least-a-week to prepare offense drove me crazy. The first four years I coached, we played Rock Creek only in freshman and JV football. Without the focus and preparations of the varsity program on preparing for freshman and JV games, we literally got the bejesus kicked out of us by Rock Creek four years in a row. We, the coaches or the players, had no clue how to defend the Double Wing and the Creek rolled over us for embarrassing losses.
In 2003, we went 0-9 in varsity football. I never, ever wish a goose-egg season on anyone. It is miserable for kids, coaches, families and fans. The last JV game of the 2003 season happened to be a road game at Rock Creek. Our JV kids were starting to get things together and finished over .500 that season, but true to form, we got steamrolled that day against the Mustangs.
The week prior, in the biannual state scheduling meeting, guess who we draw for the home opener in the 2004 season–yep, Rock Creek. So, we are opening the varsity season playing a team that humiliates us on a regular basis, at home where there is no tune-up road game to work the kinks out, and, perhaps the worst thing, we were coming off a deflating 0-9 season. Crap!
But something happened that JV game day; something that lit a fire in me to do whatever I could not to allow us another ass-whipping at their hands in the future. Coach Wallace and myself were standing outside the visitors locker room waiting for our JV kids to dress out, when Rock Creek’s athletic director comes over and starts up a conversation. He happens to mention that, at the scheduling meeting the previous week, he gave Coach Beam the choice of opening up with us or another area school. The AD tells us, “Coach said to pick Clay Center because we always beat them and they’re way down.” Game on, brother.
I still burn inside when I think about that day. That hurt. That hit the pride hard. I knew right then and there we needed to do whatever we needed to do from November to August to win that game. So I went to work.
Next time- The research and the basics of the Wingbuster.