HS trick play combats boredom

HS trick play combats boredom

Published Oct. 30, 2013 1:00 a.m. ET

Miley Cyrus, eat your heart out — there’s a new wrecking ball going viral.

And in this case, the “Wrecking Ball” is a football trick play involving a 5-foot-5, 240-pound kicker.

Basically, it goes like this: Martin Layna, the portly kicker on Sherwood (Ore.) High School's football team, takes a direct snap on an extra-point attempt, and, like a wrecking ball, runs straight ahead. Then, just before reaching the line of scrimmage, Layna tosses the ball up to 6-foot-11 tight end Jordan Kurahara for a two-point conversion.

The play was probably already creative enough on its own, but in the latest installation, coach Greg Lawrence added a new wrinkle — holder Ryan Jurgens distracting the defense by hopping off the field and howling like a monkey before the snap.


According to MaxPreps.com, Sherwood is 9-0 and has outscored opponents 554-96 this season — including a 62-7 win over Putnam in the contest above — and the play was designed as a way to keep players interested in the games as the season drags on.

"We have 32 seniors," Lawrence told MaxPreps.com when asked about the call earlier this week. "We're trying to get [some] of them in on special teams. We've been winning most games. We've been crushing everyone, so we've been trying to find things to make it fun for the kids."

My initial reaction to Lawrence’s explanation was to go into wet-blanket mode and call the Wrecking Ball (and other trick plays Sherwood has run this year) mean-spirited.

I think it’s ridiculous when parents and coaches complain about players running up the score when second- and third-stringers are on the field, but in my eyes, this wasn’t that. This, I thought, was a team resorting to embarrassing trick plays because they were getting bored with destroying opponents the conventional way.

But then I called Putnam coach Brad Lewman to get his take on the conversion, and he didn’t see it that way.

“I had no problem with it at all,” Lewman said Wednesday morning, when reached by phone. “I understand that they had a little fun with it and I don’t have any ill feelings toward them or their coach. If I don’t have anything better to worry about than that, then something is wrong with me.”

In fact, Lewman, who was promoted from the Kingsmen’s offensive coordinator position to head coach in 2011, said he understands why Lawrence tried to inject a little creativity into the gameplan, even though it came in what was almost certain to be a blowout.

“I can, and he’s exactly right, 100-percent right,” Lewman said of Lawrence’s comments. “I don’t think that what he said shocks anybody. His team and their players are superior to everybody at the 5A level and I don’t see anything wrong with them doing what they did.”

I’m still not sure I agree that a heavy favorite should be running trick plays against a team they’re about to beat by six touchdowns. (This particular conversion came after Sherwood’s first touchdown of the game.) But if the opposing coach is OK with it, then I suppose I should be OK with it, too — and in the end, I guess there’s something to the idea that if teams don’t like what Sherwood is doing, then they should find a way to stop it.

Putnam (3-6) plays Friday against Dallas High School in a postseason play-in game. Sherwood, the defending state champs and the No. 1 ranked team in Class 5A according to OregonLive.com, has already qualified for the playoffs and will face an as yet undetermined first-round opponent on Nov. 8.