Football – Appalachian Style

Great football teams are opportunistic.  Ask the former national champion college football outfit from Michigan about their 2007 close encounter of the worst kind with a certain team from the mountains of North Carolina.  If you know anything about football in Appalachia, you know every play – I said every play is a scoring opportunity for a team like Appalachian State University.  A quarterback with one of these teams needs his team to protect him, then open not just one route to the goal line but two, three, or maybe four each play.  He needs good receivers down field, a hole up the middle for a keeper, and a hand off route up the side, plus a half back ready for a lateral if necessary.  You get the idea.  He needs someone who can relieve him.  Rarely does every option actually present itself, but while the effort to develop every option during each play is strenuous, defending against it is even more so.  Of course not every play presents a touchdown opportunity, but if it presents a first down opportunity, eventually the score will materialize.  A defensive team will also see each play as a scoring opportunity, which they will either prevent, or make good on.  A team with this kind of agility – mental and physical – can exhaust a good defense by mid third quarter.  Don’t believe it?  Check how many of these teams make most of their points late in the game.  If you are the defense and the opposing team has a “triple option” quarterback which they support and protect, you know it is probably not going to be a great day – football wise.  Such teams are hard to assemble and difficult to maintain. Get two teams like this together and you will probably see a good game.

According to a Wikipedia article the owner of the Bristol, TN raceway has proposed the worlds largest college football game at “Thunder Valley” between VT and UT(K).  The speedway seats more than 160,000.  Each team was supposedly offered huge incentives.  But the game never happened.  Today the speedway infield has been reconfigured such that some think it is no longer even possible.  It is my opinion there was never much of a chance.  One of these teams plays what I call the Appalachian style of football.  Sometimes it is called “Beamer Ball” after the Tech coach – but it is essentially the same style of football played in the mountains of Virginia since I was young.  The other team is tried and true southeastern conference.  A “gridiron” team.  Perhaps they recognized the danger of playing a team which practiced a more “asynchronous” style of football – especially in front of 160,000 fans.

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