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To its proponents, the A-11 [offense] represents the logical and inevitable evolution of a game that is becoming faster and more spread out at all levels. The alignment diminishes, or eliminates, the need for a traditional offensive line, where players can weigh 300 pounds even in high school. And, coaches say, it reduces injury because it involves glancing blows more than smash-mouth collisions.

To its detractors, the A-11 is a gimmick that cleverly but unfairly takes advantage of a loophole in the rules. To these critics, the offense places an inequitable burden on defenses to determine who is eligible for passes and makes the sport nearly impossible to referee.

Whatever one thinks of the offense, it complies with the current statutes of the National Federation of State High School Associations. And it is as entertaining to watch as it is radical in design.

“My wife says it looks like basketball on grass,” said Coach Johnny Poynter, who has installed the A-11 at Trimble High in Bedford, Ky., fearing injuries would leave his team unable to finish the season in a more conventional offense.