Steve Humphries is facing 4th-and-very, very long.
A few years back, the San Francisco mortgage broker devised a football offense that forever altered the prevailing paradigm of who the head cheerleader is supposed to date. Humphries and fellow Piedmont High School football coach Kurt Bryan's A-11 offense features two quarterbacks -- and 11 eligible receivers. To keep the high school motif going, think of it as the shotgun spread offense x 1023.
In two seasons employing the offense, Piedmont -- a small, suburban school in an affluent East Bay community best known for its annual bird-calling exhibition on The Tonight Show and David Letterman (and Arsenio, that one year) -- won 15 games and lost only five. This year, the team went 8-2 and scored 33 points per game. Articles about the distinctive A-11 offense (that stands for "All 11" as in everyone is eligible to catch a pass) appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, and ESPN Magazine.
Naturally, High School sports' governing body is leaning toward banning it.
The National Federation of State High School Associations' rules
committee met last month and is expected to release its rules changes
for the 2009 seasion -- which were decided by secret vote -- sometime
in the next week. Humphries said he thinks his offensive system's
chances of survival are "50-50." But he talks like a man who knows the
score when he angrily sums up the governing body as "A bunch of
Ironically, Humprhies' response to being dealt the black spot by the
governing body may well be the traditional Piedmont reaction to being
handed a setback -- call a lawyer. He told SF Weekly he may file a suit and seek "a federal injunction" -- and, truly, there is no shortage of lawyers in Piedmont.
Less bombastically, he postulated that Piedmont may secede from the
NFSH and play in an independent -- and A-11 friendly -- league, or even
work with the governing body to form a "sub-federation" of A-11 teams
(there are quite a few around the nation now, including Mission High
here in the city).
When asked if the school really felt it was worth seceding or filing
suit rather than just going back to a traditional offense and appeasing
the governing body, Humphries said school principal Randy Booker was
100 percent behind him. Booker hasn't yet returned SF Weekly's call.
But it would make sense. The A-11 offense, like the bird calling contest,
has gotten Piedmont plenty of glowing press -- and it doesn't require making a jackass out of yourself on Letterman.