Despite impassioned pleas Monday from supporters of football's A-11 offense, the innovation that began at Piedmont High in 2007 appears to be on its deathbed.
After a meeting at the California Interscholastic Federation's Alameda headquarters, the state's Football Advisory Committee decided against recommending to its executive committee to move forward with a petition for the CIF to accept a three-year pilot program to study the effects the A-11 has on the game's fairness, integrity and safety.
Piedmont coach Kurt Bryan, offensive coordinator Steve Humphries and principal Randall Booker, joined by Saddleback Valley Christian-San Juan Capistrano coach Gary Chambers and representing others, were seeking either the three-year pilot program or for the CIF to outright decline to adopt a January rule change by the National Federation of State High School Associations Football Rules Committee that effectively eliminated the A-11 in its current form. Both proposals were defeated by 8-0 votes.
The offense's future now lies on the remote possibility the CIF executive committee goes against the advisory committee's recommendations and presents Piedmont's petition to the CIF Federated Council when it meets May 8-9.
"I felt very good about the facts we presented," Bryan said. "But now it's out of my hands."
Bryan and Humphries, who co-created the A-11 in 2007, answered questions and presented facts, data and video evidence Monday about the improved safety and enjoyment of the game and its ability to be properly officiated. The latter included a testimonial from Sam Moriana, the head of the East Bay Officials Association.
"From an officiating standpoint, it's my view that any competent, certified high school official can work the A-11 offense," Moriana said. "It's not that hard."
Piedmont players spoke of the excitement of the game, the involvement of more players and the opportunity for undersized players to succeed.
"I got to use my strengths: speed and agility," said senior Jeremy George, the team's 5-foot-10, 150-pound quarterback.
The nationally known and debated offense, which used a scrimmage kick formation to take advantage of a numbering exception to make all 11 players potentially eligible to receive a pass, has been on life support since the January rule change.
Approved by a 46-2 vote, the change requires at least four players to wear jersey numbers that made them ineligible to catch a pass on first, second and third down. Previously, the scrimmage kick formation — with one potential receiver of the snap at least 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage — allowed every player on the field to wear an eligible number (1-49, 80-99), with different formation shifts allowing any player to be eligible for a reception.
That scrimmage kick formation exception, it has been argued, was utilizing a loophole in a rule that was put in place for teams to have more athletic players on the field for punts and field goals and the loophole's use has been considered unsportsmanlike by detractors. Steve Stearns, the CIF's football rules interpreter, mentioned he felt the offense was "a travesty to the game."
Reluctancy on the CIF's behalf to grant the pilot program also likely stems from the fact the state would lose its seat on the NFHS football rules committee by going against the national rules.
If the A-11 is indeed gone in its current form, Bryan said it won't disappear completely even though some of the deception would be gone by losing the ability to place every player in an eligible number.
"There are too many benefits to go away from the A-11," Bryan said.
Contact Jimmy Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.