'Basketball on Grass' Has Heads Spinning

Offbeat offense catches on with high school football coaches
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2008 12:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Standard football rules allow the team on offense five eligible receivers downfield. But what if opponents and officials can't tell which five until the center snaps the ball? Hundreds of high schools run the controversial "A-11" offense, which relies on confusion instead of brawn. The New York Times checks out the X's and O's.

"The dimensions of the playing field haven’t changed in over a hundred years, but athletes don’t resemble what they did 100 years ago," says one California coach. The A-11 places a premium on speed and versatility, allowing smaller schools to compete more effectively against larger opponents. One official calls it "deception," but one college coach says it "presents some ideas all of us should think about."