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Adjusting the High School 4-3 Defense Around Personnel Limitations

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© October, 2008


by Steve De Marino
Former Assistant Coach Arcata High School (CA)

Most coaches who run the 4-3 defense have an “ideal” make-up of players that they would like to field against their opponents.  Myself, I prefer two big (250 pounds or more) defensive tackles; tall guys for pass-rush ends; mobile, agile and hostile guys preferably over 6 foot at the linebacker position; and some fast, good tackling kids at the corner and safety spots. That’s my personal ideal for the 4-3.

    Now, what happens, as it does all too often at the high school level, when one doesn’t HAVE these ideal kids? What happens when depth is non-existent and starters get injured? What is the back-up plan? What happens when the team doesn’t have enough guys to platoon, and the tackles are sucking wind? How to adjust?  Well, in this article I would like to show some variations that have worked for us, helping us to overcome a limited player pool.

 Starting Up Front:

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