Secondary Development

March 25, 2018

Secondary Development

Photo Courtesy of Greg Abel Photography


This is the first blog post for Intentionally Grounded that is going to cover something that we haven’t yet touched on: DEFENSE!! Specifically I am going to talk about how we train our secondary players here at Fairmont HS, as well as, some alignment ideas for you to take with you to your program.



I think one area that has changed my philosophy from 10 years ago and being a college football player, to how I view defenses now as a coach, is the perception that the FS/SS will always dictate to a QB what coverage they are going to see. I’m not sure that it’s as important, in our opinion, as it once was. For a lot of HS QB’s, coaches are really simplifying this to turn into a “Are there 2 high Safeties or 1?”, as well as the implementation of RPO’s, open grass reads, and a lot more vertical releases. Coaches around the country are making the “reads” much simpler for their Quarterbacks. We do the same thing here to an extent. So how do we defend that and try to create some confusion?

The first thing we teach our guys from the CB position pre-snap  is when we are lined up on top of #1, we always want to take away any type of inside release that he may try to gain, especially on first and second down. We are a “Quarters” coverage team by nature, but that doesn’t prevent our CB’s from pressing on top of #1 regardless. Our Safeties will always play at 8-10 yards, regardless of our our 2 high call. We have a great amount of data in each scouting report, so if your a heavy run team on 1st/2nd down, why play everyone so far off the box? If we think your going to run, we will play a “Press Quarters” look,  (inside to Out with our alignment) and at the snap, get out quickly.


Snap (Boundary Corner)

At the snap, we have one basic command: BAIL. Get out of your stance and stay on top of your side of the field. Depending on a variety of different factors (Field Position, boundary or field CB/S, Down and Distance etc.) your position on the snap of the ball could be different. If you are a Boundary Corner (BC) on the snap of the ball, we almost will always have your hips closed off to the field. Our priority is to sandwich you between the sideline and the bottom of the numbers. The clip below shows how we try to use our hands at the snap and track your inside hip, to make the window very small for opposing QB’s. If you notice, we almost rarely give FS help to the boundary outside of the hash. We teach our BC to be aggressive, and in the event you get beat inside, you’ll have help. If you get beat below the numbers, then we have work to do.


Snap (Field Coverage)

In my next clip, here is a good piece on how we cover the “field”, in a 3×1 set. We have already established our pre-snap alignment,  regardless of your coverage call, which is:

1) Creating an inside leverage on #1

2) Hips “open” to the field

3) Safety Help w/ Inside leverage on #2 and #3


One reason we don’t require our safeties to help below the numbers to the “Field”, is because we just don’t see very many guys at the HS level who can, consistently put the ball out there with accuracy. In this film, you will see the QB try to work the ball right on the hash, but because of our alignment, it makes for an easy pick. (I can’t stress enough that we preach to our guys daily: No matter the coverage call, understand where the ball is and take away the easiest throw possible.) To add to the interception, because everyone on the field side has their hips open and inside leverage, we are then able to get out in front and turn a big play into points.


All of our coverages, regardless of the call, have the same basic concepts:

1) We are going to force skill players to make plays in a sandbox

2)We are going to be very aggressive with our hands

3) Our pre-snap alignment and help will always be dictated by where the ball is on the field/Down and Distance.


It would be easy to go greater in-depth into all the nuances that we teach and have our guys do, but because I don’t want to bore you to death I will leave it at that! Thanks for reading my post and if you have any questions, please feel free to email or message me!


Written by John Kesselring


Twitter: @JohnKesselring

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