What Was The Score Of The Smu Football Game Why the Mighty Teams Fail at the Pop Warner and AYF National Championships

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Why the Mighty Teams Fail at the Pop Warner and AYF National Championships

Stumbled gorillas

In both the AIF and Pop Warner National Championships, there are many very good youth soccer teams that have dominated their opponents throughout the season. Several coaches I spoke to cited their impressive records and scores that bordered on the absurd. One coach was 15-0 with a total of 510-6 points, another was 14-0 with 456-14 points.

While this isn’t necessarily a rule, there have been plenty of teams that, for whatever reason, ruled their fiefdoms with an iron fist and experienced very little pre-tournament adversity. A few coaches told me they didn’t play a full season at all, a few others said they played 2 times or less. At least 30 coaches said they haven’t trailed in a game all year. I like to call these teams “gorilla” teams, they rule the jungle and have no legitimate threat to control their jungle. They dominate their competition and many times they face teams that are mentally beaten before they even take the field, due to the looks of the gorilla teams or the reputation of the gorilla teams.

However, when most of the gorilla teams arrive in Florida, they discover that there are other gorillas just as talented as them who have little or no fear of facing other gorillas. I saw one Pee Wee gorilla team at the Pop Warner tournament, seemingly well coached on both offense and defense and very good athletes, struggle to move the ball against another gorilla team. On their first drive, they barely made it and it only went 12 yards, giving their opponent very good field position. In the next situation – 4th and 6 from their 40, they decided to go for it and failed. On the next possession on 4th and 7, they had a 14-yard field goal. On the second possession, they had 4th and 9 and they faked a punt, it was a terrible attempt, both the kicker and the player they shorted to were only a yard away, no one faked and the punt was bad, the other team recovered and entered the goal. On their last scrimmage, it was 4th and 11 from their own 20-yard line. Since they were playing so poorly and their fakes were just as bad, they decided to go for it and were pumped to seal their fate.

The Kicking Game

This game was played on one side of the field the entire game due to poor punting by one team and fairly good punting by the opposing team. The opposing team consistently gained 30 yards on their punts or just went for it on fourth down because of the field position they had. The winning team was able to take a few more chances due to their field position, while the losing team could not dig deep into their game. In the end, the punting game was the deciding factor in this game which was decided by one touchdown.

Neither team could move the ball well, but on every exchange one team gained 20 yards or more of field position, which ultimately gave them the win. It was very obvious that the losing team had not countered much during their season, if at all. They didn’t need it, but apparently they failed to perfect it for the day they might need it.

The same goes for some blocking scheme settings. Like any youth soccer league with about 100 teams, our league has very good teams, good teams, average teams and bad teams, coaches run the gamut. Depending on the schedule, we may have a good number of teams where we can run our basic 12-14 plays with our regular rules and blocking schemes and win easily if we execute well and if our players’ technique and effort is close to potential. However, there are always teams that are bigger, faster and better than us on the schedule, if not in the regular season, then in the playoffs or when we play out of conference in tournaments. Against teams you bully, things like traps, impact plays, fake pulls, misdirection, key plays, or screens may not be effective at all. When you play teams that have players who don’t play aggressively or aren’t well-coached, that type of play or tactic often fails because those players will react and play differently than well-coached or aggressive players. The danger is that when you run a pull or key play the wrong way and it doesn’t work well against a weaker team, the coaching staff and players lose confidence in the play or adjustment and it is either put on the back burner or thrown away entirely. .

Problems with the rules

In many leagues, the rules also prevent you from developing your teams for title races. Many mercy rules in leagues prevent you from working on and developing aspects of your game that you will need when you play on the bigger stage. Few teams win national championships without a legitimate passing threat or great special teams. I’m not talking about air raiding and throwing 70% of the time, I’m talking about being able to threaten the field with the potential of a completed pass that will gain 20 yards or more. In many leagues when you have a 3-4 touchdown lead, you are not allowed to throw the ball. These mercy rules are well-intentioned and needed in many places where coaches are out of control, but they can also hinder team development.

What should I do? If you think your team can be a contender for a league or national title, you need to perfect the parts of your game that you might not need until you face another gorilla. You MUST perfect those parts of the game that you didn’t have to beat a weaker or average opponent with, which means dedicating time to practice. If you have a youth soccer team fighting for the title, you may need to play a game within a game. To work on your punting game, when you’re up by 3-4 points, go ahead and punt on third down to practice. In games where you feel confident your team has the advantage, start throwing the ball earlier than you normally would or on downs you wouldn’t normally throw the ball on. Use your influence or fake pull/wrong movement even though your base plays are doing extremely well. Keep the ultimate goal in mind which is not only to beat your opponent today but also to win the last game against another gorilla. If you’re controlling the game on offense, put your weaker players on defense early to keep the margin tight enough to keep you out of the mercy rule so you can work on offense and special teams. I don’t dwell on the final result, I could care less about the suspensions, my goal is to prepare the team to its full potential and win that last big game.


In order to win on the big stage, in most cases you will need all the tricks in your bag to defeat other gorillas in the jungle. Before every game, take a few moments away from everything to think about your ultimate goals, don’t get caught up in the moment and excitement of that day’s game. Write some of the things you need to work on on the play list to remind you. My three-game sheet said: Punt, Wrong, Burst 43 G, Buck, Smoke Pass, all things we’ll need later in the season. There were points in that game where I could work in all five points of emphasis. When you get to that final game you will be glad you took the time to fully prepare for that opponent, it will often be the difference.

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