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The 4-3 Defense For High School Football
One of the most popular defenses in all colleges and the NFL is the 4-3 defense. The 4-3 is also one of the most popular defensive fronts in high school football today. With the incredible variation in high school offenses, the 4-3 defense is a great answer to the question, “How can you stop it all?”
The 4-3 defense uses four linemen and three linebackers. Using sophisticated coverage schemes, you can also include 1 or 2 of the safeties or cornerbacks in the run-stopping element of defense. Few defenses give you the option to play with 9 defenders in the box against heavy running teams. Plus, you already have 4 deep secondary players for the passing teams, along with 3 linebackers and a solid 4-man pass rush.
When running the 4-3 defense in high school, it’s important to put the right players in the right places. For more details on the setup and execution of the defence, be sure to check out Football-Defense.com as well as ‘Football 4-3 Defensive Front Setup’, available on this website. Here I want to describe how to use your players within the defense.
In high school, we don’t have the ability to recruit or draft. We have what we have. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we place our players in the diagram in the right places, and then adjust the diagram according to their talents and abilities. Your best football player, in terms of speed, strength, power and tenacity will be the Mike Linebacker. He takes the most punishment and his abilities will be evident when playing with a strong running team. If he does the housework, he’s your man. If you grab it by the throat, it might not be him. Against a Triple Option team, he attacks from the back with every snap.
The next key to your 4-3 defense is the 3 technique defensive tackle. He has to be the biggest, baddest beast you have. Speed is not mandatory, but preferable. At the very least, this guy will plug the strong side B Gap and stop the run. It relieves the Mike Linebacker if this guy can really handle a big box.
Your best athletes will play the safety positions. This is a level 2 security defense. Personally, I like to run Quarters Coverage with the 4-3 defensive front. This gives the possibility of having 9 guys in the box. That means your safeties need to be fast cats who can cover the deep ball, but have a linebacker mentality.
If you can find these 4 guys in your entire high school, you can have a solid defense. Yes, you need a few good athletes to play cornerback for you – but they can be one-dimensional and rarely need to be extremely physical. Your defensive ends need to be quick, more like linebackers than traditional defensive ends. I wish I had the best wrestler in the school at 1-Technique Defensive Tackle, and I don’t care what weight class it is. It can be 103 or Heavyweight (unless you need Heavyweight at 3-tech!). And Outside Linebackers are those hybrid types of guys that many teams use as overhanging safeties in 4-2-5 or 3-5-3 defenses.
The 4-3 defense is still one of the most effective defenses in all of football, whether in high school, college, or the NFL. For more information, check out the links below and keep learning!
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