Cajon Special: A Trick Play

21 Nov

Some years ago when I coached at Barstow HS, the head coach, a former Nebraska Nose Tackle by the name of Dionicio Monarrez, would like us to install some kind of trick play into our offensive game plan each week.  He liked to surprise our opponents at key times during a game.  He called the trick plays: “momentum changers”.

One week our opponent was Cajon HS and while breaking down film of them, I saw that they favored a Cover 1 defense in short yardage situations and I wondered what the Free Safety would do if we went empty from a 2×2 formation by motioning our single setback out of the backfield (below).   Would he stay in the middle of the field or would he pick up the RB?

Cajon Special as the play would be called was a simple deception.  The deception was that the inside receiver to the left side was actually an offensive Tackle while our Tight End replaced him on the right side of the offensive line.  The OT was positioned on the LOS, so he was covered by the X-receiver and was not an eligible receiver.

Meanwhile the slot and split receiver to the right side were aligned off the ball and in the backfield, making each of them eligible but, more importantly, they didn’t cover the TE at the right tackle position, making him eligible as well.

The single setback went in motion to the left side of the formation, toward the OT, on the second sound in the snap count.   If the Free Safety went with him, he’d leave the middle of the field uncovered which we would attack with the TE via a dump pass.  If he stayed and the defensive front bumped to the RB, he would spot up beyond the OT and we’d throw him a quick pass.   Sort of like a long pitch play.   The QB drop was 3-steps.

Cajon Special was two simple options based on one read and it was quick once the ball was snapped.  And, as it turned out come game day, the Free Safety went with the RB, vacating the deep middle which we successfully attacked with the TE for 36 yards.  Had he been faster, it would have been 6 points.  Even still, it was so sweet to see the play executed as designed and was very much a momentum changer.

At our level, the 53 defense is one you see a lot and Cover 1 is a coverage scheme you can force a 53 defense into by going empty from a 2×2 formation.  And Cajon Special is one pass play you can use to defeat it.

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