Adding the Wildcat Package - Tackle Trap

By Zach Dunn | Posted 1/11/2019

On a previous episode of USA Football’s Coach and Coordinator podcast, Keith Grabowski was joined by the head coach of St. Charles North (Ill.) Ron Pomazak to discuss his takeaways from this season, overcoming adversity and a preview of what’s to come at this year’s National Conference.

On the podcast, Coach Pomazak discussed a few big plays for his team this season, and in particular, the “Wildcat” package. St. Charles North lost their starting quarterback in their first game of the season, so Coach Pomazak and his staff needed a new way to get their best player the ball. Enter the Wildcat formation. This is a package they leaned on heavily during their playoff run.

RELATED CONTENT: Build Off the Inside Zone Scheme like the Chicago Bears

Tackle Trap

The first play we will examine is the Tackle Trap play ran from the Wildcat. St. Charles North ran this concept from multiple formations and against a bevy of defensive fronts. The beauty behind this play is how it mirrors inside zone read to the play-side defensive end. The action in the backfield resembles zone read with the play-side tackle climbing to the linebacker.

Here are offenses rules for tackle trap versus an odd front:

  • Backside Tackle: Pulls and traps the frontside defensive end
  • Backside Guard: Block the nearest defensive lineman backside.
  • Center: Double team the nearest defensive lineman play side
  • Frontside Guard: Block the play side B gap or A gap defensive lineman
  • Frontside Tackle: Jab step wide to freeze the defensive end and block the play-side linebacker
  • Running Back: Fake the handoff and cut off any penetration coming backside from the tackle pull
  • Wildcat Quarterback: Ball fake to the running back and run between the double team and tackle trap

Tackle Trap versus an Odd Front

Next is an example against an over front from a Y-Y alignment. The offense aligns in the Wildcat with two tight ends in the game. Expecting a run to that side, the defense overloads the Y-Y side of the formation, leaving them vulnerable backside.

The center and play-side guard block down on the 2i to the backside linebacker. The frontside tackle jabs at the defensive end before climbing up to the play-side linebacker. This holds the defensive end and keeps him from crashing down and spilling the ball to the overhang defender.

Tackle Trap from Y-Y Formation

Against the blitz, St. Charles North blocked this play nicely. The opponent brings the old “NCAA blitz” where the Sam/nickel blitzes off the edge and  the play-side defensive end crashes into the B gap while the Mike scrapes overtop. Teams often do this against heavy zone-read teams to force the quarterback to keep the ball into a scraping linebacker.

RELATED CONTENT: How Clemson made life easier for Trevor Lawrence with RPO's 

The offensive line blocks this play up perfect though. The center and play-side guard double the 2i to the backside linebacker. What makes this play successful is the play by the play-side tackle. Once he feels the defensive end pinch down into the B gap and the Mike linebacker scraping over the top, he just rides the defensive end down. This makes the player being trapped now the scrapping linebacker.

This is the old “Pizza Theory.” You take my piece, and I’ll take yours. The tackle sees the defensive end pinch down, so he takes that block and the backside tackle now takes the play-side tackle’s guy. This is a well-coached offensive line.

Tackle Trap vs NCAA Blitz

The final play that we’ll look at is one from St. Charles North’s overtime victory. The blocking scheme is the same as what’s mentioned above. The hole opens perfectly for a walk-in touchdown to seal the win.

Tackle Trap

Coach Pomazak and his staff did a phenomenal job of implementing a few wrinkles to their game plan when the starting quarterback went down. Like the old saying, “Think about players, not plays.” That is exactly what coach and his staff did by ensuring that one of their best players was carrying the ball in crucial situations.

RELATED CONTENT: Learn how Army's Defense was a Knightmare for opposing offenses this season


Your defense is only as good as each tackler. Equip your staff with a common language, a systematic teaching progression and evaluation tools to coach better tacklers.