When South Pointe’s defensive coaches ran Belton-Honea Path’s film through Hudl, a digital film viewing and organizing program, they discovered that the Bears lined up in at least 108 different offensive formations.
Stallions coach Strait Herron explained that Belton-Honea Path, which visits South Pointe on Friday in the third round of the 3A state playoffs, doesn’t have 108 different plays; just that the Bears use that many formations to run the same basic plays.
“I think that’s part of their plan, you have to figure out what to key on in every different formation,” said South Pointe’s fourth-year coach. “One hundred and eight, it’s hard to teach high school guys who to read in every situation, so we’ve just got to forget about that, stay base to what we do, make our reads and then play football.”
Other than the odd opponent-specific tweaking, South Pointe shouldn’t change its defensive plan. The team’s defense has forced 11 turnovers in two playoff games, has only allowed more than 17 points twice in a seven-game winning streak, and is playing its best ball of the season.
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Besides, it doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to understand that Belton-Honea Path will run the ball out of most of its 100-plus formations. The Bears’ run-game is led by junior Juwan Abney, who ran for over 200 yards and three touchdowns last week in the 55-21 blowout of previously undefeated Greer. Coach Russell Blackston’s Bears have run for over 300 yards in each of the last three games and average 270 per outing.
Herron read last weekend “There was a quote in the paper (Blackston) put out after the Greer win, ‘if we play Bear football, we’re gonna run the ball,’ which is I think what he said. They’re a running football team.”
That won’t be anything new for the Stallions, who faced run-centric teams like Clinton and Broome during region play. The difference is the variety of formations that Belton-Honea Path presents, aimed to induce paralysis by analysis, where a normally aggressive linebacker or defensive end over-thinks instead of reacting.
Indeed, Herron said Wednesday evening, “I worry about our guys losing their mind and making mental mistakes.”
The visitors likely won’t have that problem Friday night. Herron said game film indicates the Bears stay in a four-man defensive front almost exclusively, regardless of what the offense presents.
Simplicity does not imply fecklessness. Belton-Honea Path has only allowed more than 21 points twice this season, losses to Daniel and Wren. The Bears were tied 14-14 with Greer before ripping off 41 unanswered points. The Yellow Jackets glossed the scoreline with a late touchdown, but were limited to 267 yards of offense and turned the ball over four times.
“There’s not a whole lot to it, but they’re very good at it,” said Herron. “That’s what happens when you run one thing, you get to where you know exactly what to read and where you need to be, and all the places you’re responsible for.”