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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh credits Chatfield High School for ‘train formation’ play

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When the University of Michigan played Wisconsin on Saturday, one play stood out to fans. Some even called it “crazy” and “shocking.” Others simply called it “the train.”

Near the end of the first quarter, coach Jim Harbaugh lined up 10 offensive players in a straight line behind center Mason Cole, with quarterback Wilton Speight to the side.

Speight walked down the line of scrimmage, prompting the Wolverines  into a jumbo, or big-I, formation. Speight then handed it off to De’Veon Smith, who pushed through the Badgers’ defense to the 1-yard line.

“Jim Harbaugh is known for his brand of hard-nosed, smashmouth football at Michigan, but the formation the Wolverines showed on offense Saturday is shocking even for him,” Football News wrote on YouTube.

The play might not have been as shocking to high school football fans in Colorado.

According to CHSSA Now, Harbaugh’s son Jay, saw the formation while watching film from Littleton’s Chatfield High School.

“I can’t take credit for that one,” Jim Harbaugh said on his radio show, according to  “That was Jay Harbaugh. He was pouring over high school tape and saw a high school team in Colorado that used that. We can’t take credit for it. If any credit, I give it to Jay for spotting it, being diligent going through the tape. We said, ‘That looks good.’”

A Denver man then tweeted a photo of Chatfield executing the play.

Chatfield calls the play its “speed line” and it typically runs it a few times a game, according to CHSSA Now.

Chatfield coach Bret McGatlin told CHSSA Now that his father, Don McGatlin, came up with the formation when he coached at Green Mountain High School.

“I hope they run it more,” CHSSA Now quoted Bret McGatlin as saying.

Michigan won, 14-7. The Wolverines are 5–0 and ranked No. 4 in the country.