Tunnel Screen Breakdown with Cut Ups (14U & High School)

Until recently, Tunnel Screens were not a huge part of my game plan. I didn't know how to naturally fit them into my game plan. I didn't love that the offensive lineman were working hard to get into the WR path but not get there soon enough to impact the play. I was more confident in our other screens and shorter passing routes so I defaulted to anything else so I didn't have to fight through the uncertainty of calling a play I wasn't confident in.

It all changed when I saw Coach Joe Salas presenting on his Tunnel Screens, more specifically how he would run it to a single receiver side, into the boundary. This turned a switch in my brain and it all made sense. Just these small adjustments solved all of my issues with the play and now it is a regular part of my game plan, as well as a deadly go to play when within 10 yards of the end zone.

Our tunnel screen (lucy/rose) concept was utilized by middle school (#12U, #14U), as well as our High School teams.

Tunnel Screen (Lucy/Rose)


  • Ace/Open (2x2), Late/Early (3x1), Blue/Green (2 Back), Black/Brown, (2 Back Heavy), Star/Lazer (Empty)

Favorite Formations to run Tunnel

  • Late/Early (3x1), Star/Lazer (Empty)

My Universal Tunnel Concept Rules

  • Pre-snap:

    • QB needs to count numbers on the screen side. Will run the play as long as we are behind in the count. Will still run play with equal numbers.

  • Post-snap:

    • QB: Quick 3 step to the tunnel runner as he starts back to LOS

    • Backside WRs: Run the same tunnel screen action

    • Number 2 WR/RB Playside: Immediately attack the catch zone of the tunnel runner, ensuring the CB (or most dangerous defender) can not disrupt the catch and/or make a tackle

    • Tunnel Runner will take at least one hard step (up to three) toward the CB to get him moving backward, then retreat on the same path to the LOS, moving slightly toward the OL. The WR should only come inside a few steps at the most, really just needing that #2 WR/RB to get in front for the block. The tunnel runner will catch the ball at the LOS, getting inside #2's block, then immediately getting back outside to ensure interior help doesn't tackle him.

    • Backside OL: Pass pro, ensuring QB gets the ball off without pressure

    • Playside Guard: 2 vertical steps back, engaging with DT if needed, throw DT outside and take a 45 degree angle, upfield to go find the first person in the wrong color in the alley.

    • Playside Tackle: 2 vertical steps back, engaging with DE if needed, throw DE outside and take a 5 degree angle, upfield to go find the first person in the wrong color on the side walk.

Note: The OL may or may not get into the picture. Since I typically only call this into the boundary, I have found much more success since the OL is involved with the play and they know they will impact the play with a much shorter run.

Rose (3x1) Tunnel into the Boundary

Rose (3x2) Tunnel from Empty 

All Tunnel Concept Cut Ups

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