Post #4 in a Series of Blogs on Gun Triple Option Concepts: Guest Blog Ryan Landers, Head Football Coach at Chugiak High School

Ryan Landers, Head Coach, OC

Chugiak High School Mustangs, Chugiak, Alaska

For decades Chugiak has been a powerhouse in Alaska football and was a traditional wishbone team.   In the 90’s we went to the state championship game 5 times winning it all in 96.  I was the center on that team and at the time our enrollment was around 1,900 students.  There was no shortage of big linemen and talented athletes.

Fast forward to today, Chugiak is still a team that is considered one of the top programs in the state even with a population of under 900!  We play against schools as large as 2,200.

I have been coaching there for 14 years, this being my 2nd year as HC, 7th year as OC.  Throughout the years we stayed true to the triple option out of the wishbone.  In 2014 we changed to pistol flexbone with the hiring of a new head coach.  Many of our flexbone principles came from Art Craig who is the HC at Timberland High School, in South Carolina.  When I took over last year, I continued with the pistol flexbone because we no longer had big linemen or big numbers in our program but we still needed to be competitive.  To the outside viewers, our version of the pistol flexbone looks like a typical spread team. We use a lot of different formations as eye candy but run most of the same plays from all formations.  All of formations and plays are names, we don’t use a traditional numbering system for play calling. 


Our 3 base formations are:

1.      Chugiak: This is our true base formation.  We are 2x2 with a FB directly behind the QB.  We have our wings (H, Z) wider than normal at 3-4 yards off the tackle and hips even with the QB’s hips.  Our QB has his heels at 3 yards and FB heels at 5.  Our wide receivers (X, Y) are 10-12 yards off the tackles and are on the LOS.

a.      Our H,Z players are typically a little smaller and quicker than our FB.  They are also used as receivers.

b.      Our X, Y receivers are your typical wide receiver.   Players who can stretch the field but must be able to block!

2.      Tampa:  This is our TE formation.  We say either Tampa RT or LT and that tells us what side the TE lines up on.  Alignment is the same as Chugiak except we bring in a bigger body to play a true TE position.  H,Z are still 3-4 yards outside the Tackle and hips even with the QB.

3.      Trips:  3x1 set.  If we need to spread a defense out we will run our trips formation.  Our X, Y receivers do not flip side and are lined up on the LOS 10-12 yards from the PST.  The only players switching sides would be our H,Z slot backs depending on which way we call the trips. 


 Keeping similarities from our wishbone days, our option plays were called 10,11 Midline, 22, 23 Base-inside veer, and 33,34 Veer-Outside veer.  


Midline is called “Missouri” (mid right) and “Missoula” (mid Left).

The first letter representing midline, and then an R for Right, an L for Left. 


Inside veer:  Bear, Bull. 

Outside veer: Vern, Val

Rocket: Roger, Rally

Jet sweep:  Jerry, Jalo


I would say our best offensive run play would be our outside veer, or vern/val.   We always run this to the TE. To compliment, our best play action play is P-vern/val. 



One unique thing about how we run our offense is that we do not huddle.  We aren’t a hurry up offense, but we have the ability to go fast if we want to and we can still control the clock too.

All our offensive players have a three-window wristband with the plays/formations on it.  The first two windows are all the plays, the third is just pass plays with the routes the receivers run.


The letters are the formations; the numbers are the plays.  To get the play in we have a player on the sideline with letter cards and I will yell out the color and number.  If we need to tag something we have hand signals that my assistant coach signals in. Below is an example of the three windows: 

Chugiak 1.PNG

Football in Alaska is like no other state.  There are teams we play that we have to fly to because there are no roads in or out of those towns!  The level of play in Alaska is just as intense and fun to watch as any other place to play.  This is a testament to all the hard work and perseverance from the players and coaches that make the great state of Alaska like no other place!  To be competitive, one must have an edge in all aspects of the game.  This is why we use the flexbone and why we are still one of the top teams in the state!  

Ryan LandersComment