How Trevor Lovig’s championship offence is just like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out
Yes, that’s what I said.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out was the absolute first thing I thought of when Trevor Lovig and I sat down to discuss the way he conceives and calls his offence in late December, about a month after his Peewee AAA Lakeshore Cougars.
How is that possible, you ask? Game players will remember the protagonist’s character as Little Mac, an underdog boxer who was far smaller and decidedly less powerful than pretty much all his opponents. It was only through the magic of technique and valuable hints from his wise mentor and trainer that he was able to succeed.
Now, I’m not saying Lovig is some sort of offensive savant, but the former Bishop’s University star quarterback (I mean that. Lovig was a finalist for Canada’s version of the Heisman Trophy in his last year of school. The man is a bona fide legend.), does know his stuff and managed to guide his Cougars – who boasted just three full-time offensive linemen (which is a problem, given there are five spots to play) – to an undefeated season and an LFMM President’s Cup championship last year.
His secret to offensive success was two-fold. First, he heeded the advice garbled to Little Mac by his trainer, which was spelled out often as ‘dodge his punch and counterpunch.’ Useful advice for any boxer, and definitely for an offensive play-caller in his first season as head coach. Lovig’s offence featured myriad progressions, as we like to put it in football parlance. If the ball was being handed off, the quarterback and the receivers ran a pass pattern to try and fool the opposition. If the run was a fake, the pass usually had a little better shot at succeeding.
Second, despite not having any one single game-breaking player on his offence, Lovig made use of the diverse talents of players such as Ryan Whitehouse, Kevyn Deserres-Payne, Daniel Devine, Hayden Gerelus and Noah Escobar, among others, as the offence was guided by Lovig’s son Jackson as the primary signal-caller.However, Lovig used six different players at quarterback at different times in 2019, which indicates the depth of talent the Cougars could boast back there.
Second, he tailored his offence to his players, whose abilities to break tackles and churn out extra yards managed to make other teams tired in the second half of games.
“You would see that the kids that were getting the ball were a lot fresher than the players on the defences we were seeing. That sp[eaks to our depth. Our guys never wore down because we had so many good players who could carry the ball and do a number of different things,” he said.
“Everything we do has a first punch and then a counterpunch, so the kids on defence have to figure out where the ball is before they can flow to it and make a tackle, “ Lovig added. In addition, asking his quarterbacks to make half-field reads simplified the Cougars’ passing game for the players, allowing them to play fast, without hesitation.
Dodge his punch then counterpunch. Good advice, in football, or in life.