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West uses sign language to call its offense

By jhornberg
Sept. 7, 2012 at 4:07 a.m.


VICTORIA WEST VS. CUERO

7:30 p.m. start, Friday at Memorial Stadium

Radio: KVNN, 1340 AM & KBAR, 100.9 FM

• Travis Reeve, who played at Victoria High, returns to Victoria as a coach at Cuero, C4

What play is doughnut, Texas, butter, five?

Only the West coaches, and their offensive players, know.

When the Warriors offense take the field on Friday against Cuero, they will get their plays via a series of pictures, states and other signs on a poster board.

Each one is a different part of a play, a route, a blocking scheme, a type of run play.

As coaches hunt for new and novel ways to call plays in a quick and easy fashion, signs have been popping up on sidelines, and Victoria West is no different.

"We talked to a few other teams, we take ideas from each other," said West offensive coordinator Courtney Boyce. "We made a few phone calls, asked other coaches how they incorporated them into our offense."

The Warriors installed the system last year as a new way of getting their plays to the offense on the field. The first year, plays reached the field by coaches flashing clipboards and flailing their arms, leaving linemen in their stances and players gawking trying to comprehend.

The signs, said senior quarterback Garrett Rother, are making life easier, even if they are difficult to get used to.

"We used the signs in practice and well when we're trying to call plays," he said. "I've gotten pretty familiar with them. Maybe it's a little new for the new guys, and it may be harder to wrap your head around them, but I think we're catching on."

Boyce said the system was picked up from the college ranks. The University of Oregon made the signs popular - with poster boards adorned with states, foods, words and ESPN personalities - during its Rose Bowl run in 2009.

But that wasn't the first place the West coach saw it.

"The first one I ever saw was Oklahoma State, then Oregon," Boyce said. "Football coaches are always looking for a better way to do things.

"It's been good, the kids really enjoy it and it gives us another way to do things."

But it leaves the possibility for something ridiculous. Could something so ridiculous appear on the sign to cause the players to breakdown in laughter on the field?

"It's probably happened in practice," Boyce said with a chuckle. "But in a game, it's all business.

"Even if they are laughing, I can imagine it's hard to tell if they are."

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