FNF Coaches Talk — Breaking Down the RPO, Small-School South Carolina Program on the Rise, Coach Orders Player to Stay Off Social Media After Blowout Win

Welcome back, Coaches. We’ve got your stories!

1. Breaking down the RPO (The Reflector)

If you’re looking for an example of a lesser foe using the RPO scheme to upset an opponent, look no further than the matchup between No. 17 Cincinnati and unranked East Carolina last Saturday.

East Carolina wanted to be aggressive, and a major force behind the Pirates’ offensive outburst was correct execution by quarterback Holton Ahlers and others on run-pass options plays.

ECU’s breakout night of five touchdowns and 638 total yards came in a 46-43 heartbreaking loss at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that also left ECU (3-6, 0-5 American Athletic Conference) with a renewed sense of optimism to take to its final three games of the regular season. The 43-point output, which was the most allowed by Cincinnati (7-1, 4-0) this year, moved the Pirates up 14 spots nationally to No. 99 in scoring offense at 23.9 points per game. ECU’s previous season-high for points against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent was 28 in a loss at UCF on Oct. 19.

“So many of our plays are run-pass options, and where the ball goes is predicated on how the defense chooses to defend everything,” Pirate coach Mike Houston said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “Certainly we had some very productive option plays where the ball ended up being delivered accurately to a receiver making a big play. Really it’s just everybody being on the same page.”

Do you have an example of a game when you outschemed a more talented team en route to victory? How did you do it?

2. In a battle against numbers game, one of South Carolina’s smallest high schools is winning (The State)

We all hear about the powerhouse programs with 120 players and just as many boosters in the community.

What we love to hear more about is the program with a couple dozen players that is having the best season in a decade.

C.A. Johnson (S.C.) football coach Stephen Roberson has seen the lows. Roberson walked into a situation three years ago at C.A. Johnson where he routinely had 19 players available on a Friday night for varsity football, with no junior varsity or feeder program to speak of. But he’s been diligent, encouraging kids to come out and be a part of something special.

He’s seen growth in the program — with more than double the participation — and wins of the field have followed.

“The spirit and morale are pretty high,” Roberson said. “Football does a lot for a school because it’s the first big sport during the year. Having success there could carry over into the winter and spring sports.”

C.A. Johnson has an enrollment of around 400 students. The Hornets’ four wins are their most since the 2013 season.

One issue facing smaller schools is that kids transfer to what they believe is a better situation both athletically and academically. Roberson said he loses kids every year to other local high schools.

“Our kids get recruited down to the middle school level,” Roberson said. “All I try to do is get into the middle school and talk to the kids year-round, go to their middle school games and be very visible. I address them as future Hornets. Even with that, they sometimes end up at other schools.”

How can a small school program overcome a lack of depth?

3. After 103-0 playoff victory, South Dakota high school coach tells players to stay off social media (Inforum)

I know, I know. We’re all getting tired with the stories about coaches being punished for running up the score on opponents.

But this isn’t one of those stories!

It’s a story about a coach who told his team to get off social media so they wouldn’t have to hear the blowback after recording a 103-0 win.

The head coach for undefeated Pierre T.F. Riggs told his players to stay off social media after his team beat winless Spearfish 103-0 in the first round of the Class 11AA playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 31.

The Governors lead 96-0 after three quarters. The lopsided victory isn’t even the biggest blowout in the state, as according to maxpreps.com, Miller defeated DeSmet 118-0 in 1918.

After Govs head coach Steve Steele had a few days to think about it, he said the game was polarizing for all involved.

“It was one of the most polarizing mixture of emotions we’ve ever had at the conclusion of any game,” Steele said. “Being so proud of every kid that stepped onto the field for us for giving every play their very best and earning the success that they experienced throughout the game, while also feeling sick for how the other sideline had to be feeling. Knowing what it feels like to be on that sideline really makes your heart hurt for their players, coaches, and community. But at the same time again, you are so proud of each and every Gov that represented our community in a great way as well.”

A running clock was implemented for the fourth quarter.

Currently, there is no mercy rule in Class 11AAA and Class 11AA. SDHSAA executive director Dan Swartos responded to some of the criticism of that rule by tweeting that both classes have resisted a mercy rule due to travel. There is a provision in the NFHS rule book that allows for games to have shortened quarters or be ended early, but coaches and officials have to agree to it.

Steele told his players after the game to stay off social media, because there would be a lot of people saying negative things about him and his team based on the score. Despite all the negativity that has persisted the past few days, Steele said that he is thankful for the support him and the team have received.

“There is nothing in this world that going home, hugging your wife and children, and spending time with God can’t fix,” Steele said. “No matter what happens in our lives, having a support system that you know loves you and is always there waiting with open arms is what matters in life, and our coaching staff models that and prays for everyone one of our players to have that right now as kids, as well as in their adult lives someday. We are all very thankful to have those right now and know that nothing people say define who we are as people or a football family.”

What circumstances would cause you to tell your players to stay off social media?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk