First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON — Tubby Raymond isn’t a magician. But you’d never know that if you’ve ever had to defend the offense made popular by the longtime University of Delaware football coach.
The Delaware Wing T is the gridiron’s version of a really cool card trick.
Except opponents often aren’t entertained while defending it.
The offense is a big reason why Mike Brill has been such a successful high school football coach. He used the Delaware Wing T at South Robeson, turning the Mustangs into a powerhouse.
Now Brill has used the offense, with its emphasis on misdirection, fake handoffs and other sleights of hand, to rebuild a notoriously woeful Lumberton football program.
“It was just something different,” Brill said. “We went up to Delaware to watch Tubby run it. We’ve been doing it ever since.”
Brill first installed elements of the Delaware Wing T, which Raymond helped develop based on the Single-Wing offense he ran at Michigan under Fritz Crisler, in 1993 while at South Robeson. The Mustangs were facing a Bladenboro team coached by Lumberton Athletics Director Jake Smith in the third round of the state playoffs, and Brill used plays from the offense as wrinkle.
“I like the misdirection and the play action,” Brill said. “We had been running a Power T offense. I just wanted to put in a few things from the Delaware T and it worked well for us.”
The Delaware Wing T works really well for a lot of teams. Raymond went 300-119-3 and won three national championships in 36 seasons of his Hall of Fame career at Delaware. That success helped popularize the offense, and it’s become a favorite in high school football.
It’s so popular that Lumberton is bound to run into the offense during the season. The Pirates have already seen it once this season. Two Rivers 4-A Conference foe Cape Fear runs the Delaware T. So does Lumberton’s second-round state playoff opponent, Wake Forest Rollesville.
In fact, Brill said, the similarities between the teams — and specifically how they run the Delaware Wing T — are uncanny.
“They’re exactly like us,” the coach said. “The run it the same way we do.”
Of course, the coach has no problem pointing out where Rollesville might hold an advantage or two. Brill says the Cougars possess prototypical Delaware Wing T offensive linemen — big and mobile.
“You need to have offensive linemen that can move,” Brill said. “We would love to have the big offensive linemen that they have. We’re pretty small.”
Rollesville (10-2) also goes to the air bit more than Lumberton. Cougars quarterback Tim Hartman has completed 68 of 134 passes for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns.
But like Lumberton, most of Rollesville’s success is predicated on the running game, and Cougar leading rushers Trea Jones and Brexton Young break off big chunks of yards thanks due in large part to the Delaware Wing T.
“They are so disciplined,” Brill said. “They block it well. And they’re so doggone fast. They’re tough to stop.”