Seattle Spartans Drop Home Opener

​A 52-0 loss and a Costco sized bulk package of struggles have fans singing David and the Dentist’s tune “Is this real life?”

In case you’ve been living under a rock and missed the reference, I’ll drop the link here.

On a semi-soggy windy evening, the Seattle Spartans opened up their season against the Southern Oregon Ladygades at Goddard Stadium north of Seattle last Saturday night.
While Nikki Pelum and the offense had moments of success running the ball, those brief moments were interrupted by long stretches of tough defensive challenges and self-inflicted setbacks.

Pelum 1
Nikki Pelum carries the ball early in the game. (Photo Credit – SoreneGades.Blogspot)

Time after time, Seattle took to the air only to see the Southern Oregon Ladygades intercept ill-timed or lofted passes, several of which were returned for touchdowns. To match the offensive output, the defense struggled both in pass defense, giving up two touchdowns early through the air and in run defense late as the Ladygades proceeded to sweep the ball outside. As the game wound down, Oregon continued to move the ball outside with effective blocking, putting nail after nail into a coffin preordained midway through the third quarter. To make matters worse, last years quarterback, Michelle Walsh, was forced from the game with what appeared to be a non-contact knee injury.

Sarah Cooper delivers a hit to LadyGades QB

While it’s easy to focus on the score, Seattle is not without some positives. Conceptually, the offense looks have been responsible for it’s own failures. While this might the slimmest of silver linings, it’s not without the solace that Seattle still seems to control it’s own destiny. If they tighten the screws on the passing game, are able to get running backs outside the tackle box, and can settle down on defense, there is some potential hidden inside the frustration. A major bright spot of the defense was pressure on the quarterback. Seattle was able to deliver with pressure and force several turnover on downs and big situations, despite what the score might say. With this in mind, we find our answer to David’s last question in his dentist drug-induced wild ride, “Is this going to last forever?” The answer is no. While it’s a heart breaker to lose the home opener and Coach Boyd’s first game with the Spartans, the ultimate feeling is onward and upward. Unfortunately, after 52-0 there isn’t really anywhere else to go but up.

-Mark Flickinger

Seattle WFA Spartans Writer

Remember to catch your next Seattle Spartan’s home game April 27th at Frank Goddard Memorial Stadium at 6pm or watch from home on Snohomish Times Sports Network (STSPN) on youtube!

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Seattle v Portland: A Tale of the Read-Option

The Seattle Spartans are in a season of change! One thing that remains to be seen is the overall scheme packages of both the offensive and defensive coordinators. While the offense is in the hands of first year Head Coach Boyd Demus, the defense is now under the watchful eye of second year Spartans coach, Defensive Coordinator Michael Winters. Coach Winters will ultimately decide if he retains the base scheme of last year’s Reign or if he sees a better way to attack and defend WFA opponents. With this in mind, we’ll be taking a look at the Portland Fighting Shockwave’s Read-Option concept against the Seattle Spartans previous base defense. Buckle up, let’s talk some X’s and O’s!

Portland’s formation was as follows:

Portland Read Option 1
Portland ready to run Read-Option

To really break this down, we’ll take a look at the play schematic and read option concepts.

Option concept
Read Option Play Schematic

The basic option concept is designed to gain a numbers advantage in the box for the offense. This is achieved by not blocking the play side Defensive End (D End/End/E) as shown in the above schematic. If you’re an aspiring football guru, the thought of leaving the play side defensive end unblocked while running to their side might seem crazy. That being said, conceptually it preys on a potential flaw in Seattle’s base scheme in years previous. Let’s look deeper.

Note: The following is color coordinated to correspond with the above schematic.

Per the play schematic, the Quarterback is going to read (note the name “read-option”… clearly a complex naming system) the movement of the unblocked player (noted in yellow). You should see in the schematic, no one is blocking the yellow end (E). This allows those players to go and block other players, such as a double team on the 3 tech, and then a downfield block on the Middle Linebacker (M). The offensive unit starts by running a dive (in red). The Tailback (T) is shooting the A or B gaps depending on defensive alignment. Because there is a Tightend (Y) on the play side, she will also pass up the D End and block the outside backer (S). When the Quarterback opens for the hand-off to the T on the dive, her eyes are going straight to that play side Defensive End. If the End bites on the dive and crashes down, the Quarterback has an option (see… read-option. The naming system is as complex as Egyptian hieroglyphics). The Quarterback can give the ball to the Tailback and allow the dive to continue OR she can pull the ball and keep it. When the End crashes on the dive her angle is too shallow to tackle the Quarterback, so ultimately, the Quarterback is going to keep the football and rush around the end. If the End stays outside and defends the QB keep, the QB will hand the ball to the Tailback and run the dive. Either way, the End will be wrong rendering her out of the play WITHOUT being blocked.

Here enter the triple option concepts. The second back (H) from the backfield runs a sweep to the dive side. She exists as a pitch option for the quarterback for if/when the End follows the dive.

RO Art 1
The options are stacking up. The End is trapped and the Y is scoping out the Outside Backer.

Remember the play side Tightend (Y)? It’s their job to block the play side outside backer. If the backer can’t be blocked or the safety is tight, they’ll step up to play the run. When they commit to tackling the Quarterback, she pitches the ball to the Sweep back and the play continues.

RO Art 2
The Quarterback should challenge up field here, forcing tacklers to commit to her run.

The Tightend (Y) does a great job trying to get the block on #2 Cornist here, but ultimately fails to execute. Cornist, displays great blockshed and forces the pitchout to the sweep player.

RO Art 3
The Quarterback Pitches to the Sweep Option player just prior to getting hit.

Again, the concept is designed to make the defense choose how to defend a play and then to make them wrong. If the initial read End stays outside, the offense has eliminated her from the play – Advantage Offense. If the End crashes, the Quarterback keep nullifies her rush – Advantage Offense. If the offensive tackle or Tightend fails to block the outside backer (I know you’re thinking advantage defense here) the Quarterback pitches to the sweep back -Advantage Offense….

Where this becomes increasingly interesting is when facing certain defenses. Like a 4-3 cover 4 base defense the 2018 Seattle Spartans (Everett Reign) deployed. To cover this briefly, the 4 in 4-3 denotes the number of down linemen (the E, 1, 3, and E on the schematic) and the 3 is the number of linebackers (the W, M, and S). Cover 4 is the assignment of the remaining 4 defensive backs (C, C, F and the deep S). They’ll play deep quarters down the field.

Base 4-3 Cover 4

The challenge here is in the initial assignment of the outside backers. While not a particularly huge issue of the strength side due to a 3 technique (outside shoulder of the guard) B gap rusher, the weak side with the 1 tech (inside shoulder of the guard) covering an A gap is a problem. This leaves the Weakside backer (W) on a two gap assignment- weakside B-gap and a flat… the perfect problem for a read option concept that attacks both B gap on a one tech side with a dive and the flat with a pitch. I’ll highlight the issues on the play schematic here:

Weak Backer Probs
Two potential assignments for the Weak Side Backer

Simply put, the Weakside backer can’t cover both positions. Especially considering the End between her assignments will be eliminated from the play due to the read. If the end were to take the inside B gap, then the W would just become the new read player, which would be even worse! Now, you might be thinking… “Coach, this play can’t be run to that side. You even said the sweep back starts opposite the dive side and the previous schematic shows the play going toward the Tightend.” Well, have I got news for you: They flip the sweep back!

Read Option Oppo 1
Portland flipped the formation. Everett did not!

Now, Portland ran this concept only three times in their initial meeting last year. The first run, to the defensive strength went for 11 yards and was executed quite well. It’s the play broken down throughout this article. The End crashed, the QB kept, when #2 Cornist finally got off the Y’s block, she attacks the QB who pitches flawlessly to the sweep back for another 6 yard gain! The ideal look was the second time it was run, shown in the last photo. The formation, being balanced due to the tight end and offset back, didn’t change the strength side of the defense. This left the B-gap/Flat outside backer (W) on the read side. The play, ultimately forced into the dive by Sarah Cooper at Defensive End, looked primed to go for decent yardage before Portland fumbled the ball. This fumble seemed to influence Portland’s decision to go away from the option, which is notable for its ball security risks. Ultimately, the lesson remains. While Portland didn’t capitalize on the schematic advantages, the concern of the exploitable 2 gap outside backer should be noted. Coach Winters will undoubtedly put in the work and put Seattle in the best position to be successful.

Go Spartans!


-Mark Flickinger

Seattle Spartans Sports Writer

Spartans: Rain or Shine

On a morning of long sun rays and fog banks the Seattle Spartans were putting in the work. The intricate details of reach blocks, wide receiver routes, cadence calls, and up-downs stand as the calling card of a team that won’t take no for an answer.

Whereas most of us were enjoying a cup of coffee while looking out our windows at frost covered sun struck front lawns, and ultimately enjoying the warmth of our homes, the Spartans took to the cold morning temperatures. This is a year of change. First and foremost, the team changed ownership over the off season, moving from previous owner/head coach Billy Russo, to Nicole Pelham. The vision for the team is clear in Nichole’s eyes. In a team meeting she stated “I want to win championships”. Previously the Everett Reign, the newly named Seattle Spartans are coming off a string of playoff appearances with limited success. Three straight appearances, three first round losses. First year Head Coach Boyd Demus looks to snap that streak by delivering some playoff wins. “I want the team to play aggressive” he stated, as the team worked for extra reps around him, “execution is the name of the game”.  Coach Boyd brings a substantial resume of coaching experience as well as a staff filled with passion and energy, all of which is designed to push the Spartans beyond the playoff victory drought of previous years.

Everett Reign Players #33 Marqueta Johnson and #30 Tammie Johnson ready themselves pregame (2018 vs Tacoma Trauma)

While most players present are still wearing Reign gear, the excitement of a new start lingers in the air. Ultimately, this is the inaugural season for the Seattle Spartans. The injection of energy is a wave the team would like to ride. With games against Portland, Medford, Tacoma, and Eugene, the competition is stiff. Every player knows the currency for winning is effort.

Reign or shine

Again, Coach Boyd while standing with his arms out, “When we step on this field, it’s all about football. We are football players and football coaches.” The focus is clear. Win.

The biggest challenges facing the team exist in personnel. The core group looks to return, with a few notable departures. Noor Shankman and Amelia Khar are standout omissions from the defensive secondary and wide receiver groups. Defensive Coordinator Michael Winters has his work cut out for him in finding replacements. The terminology “Next [Wo]Man up” comes to mind. Despite the losses, Seattle is clearly hungry and looks to catapult themselves atop the division.

Seattle will kick off their season against the Southern Lady Gades  (Medford, Oregon) at home on April 6th. Rain or shine, hell or high water, this team wants to make a statement. The question is, where will you be?


Mark Flickinger

Seattle WFA Spartans



Photo Credit – 2018 Diz Ruptive Photography and Larry Tisk

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