Vol.2, No.3

High school football positions

Brief explanation of all players on the defense and offense.

Football players at the line
Photo Credit: Eliza Snow

Clearly, each coach has there own definition of nearly every aspect of high school football, but mostly this article will deal with the 11 men on offense and the 11 men on defense, with minor variations of both.

Within the confines of the offense, as stated, there are 11 players on the field at one time. Now, there are certain variations of course, but generally speaking, these are their positions with explanations.

Quarterback - Calls the plays, runs the show, throws the ball.

Running back - Players who line up behind the quarterback (unless the quarterback is in the "Shotgun" formation) and are handed the ball so as to run up the middle or down the sides.

Full back- Lines up either next to or in front of the running back who blocks for them.

Center - Snaps the ball to begin the play.

2 Guards - Two players on the left and right side of the Center.

2 Tackles - Two players on the left and right side of the Guards

2 wide receivers - Two players who are wide left and right as the play begins. They receive forward passes from the Quarterback (or running back on the "halfback option".

One Tight End - This player blocks on running plays, receives on passing plays, and where he lines up dictates the "strong" or "weak" side of the offense.

** a staple of high school football is the "split end" who is off the line a bit, but who slips coverage underneath and catches slants, turning them into big gains. This player usually returns punts and kickoffs as well. **

Variations: Pull one running back and replace with a wide receiver (long yardage situations)

Remove both wide receivers and put in two tight ends (short yardage/goal line situations)

Defensive positions:

Boy, this line up will seem to vary from play to play, moment to moment. A base defense consists of 11 players, with usually 4 up front as the Defensive Line, 3 behind them as linebackers, and then the last line of defense consisting of the final 4 called the Secondary.

2 Defensive Tackle - They line up, along with the Ends, opposite the offensive line. They rush the quarterback on pass plays, and stop the run on running plays.

2 Defensive Ends

3 Linebackers - These are versatile run-stoppers or pass-defenders who occasionaly pick up sacks as they rush the quarterback with the Ends and the Tackles.

2 Cornerbacks - These players are usually one-on-one with the two wide receivers, covering them step for step.

2 Safeties - These players either cover short or long, strong or weak sides of the field, assisting in pass coverage mostly, but occasionaly participate in run stopping.

As the game progresses, of course, there will be variations on a theme, such as obvious passing or running downs, short yardage situations, and "3rd and long" scenarios.

"Nickel" packages have 5 in the secondary, and a "Dime" package have 6 in the secondary. These are for obvious passing downs.

There are "46 defenses" and " 3 - 4" or "4 - 3" sets which also vary as the game or the situation unfolds.

Of course, many coaches have many different "schemes" that they devise specifically for each opponent, with either success or failure judged by how innovative they are.