Prep football: Stoffel expects greater success at St. Albans
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. - A year after implementing the zone-read offense, St. Albans Coach Steve Stoffel Jr. and the Red Dragons football team expect to take command of the system and control of their future.
Last season, St. Albans finished 2-8 behind the spread scheme, a shift from the program's traditional I-formation, in Stoffel's first year directing the Red Dragons. Now that the team understands the principles and responsibilities of his offense, Stoffel said greater success will follow.
"The first year, it's a tough transition for kids coming from the style they were used to playing," he said. "We're excited about the future. We've got a bunch of kids out here every day working at it and they've made a commitment to get better, so we're looking forward to see what happens this year."
With such an offense, the biggest role lies with the quarterbacks.
"They've got to be able to take command of our team, our program and our players on the field," Stoffel said.
Senior Taylor Clark and junior Noah Reed rotated at quarterback last season, with Reed receiving seven starts and Clark three. Sophomore Jacob Grigsby and junior Ryan Broderick will also compete for the starting role in 2013, Stoffel said. Reed completed 90 of 165 passes for 1,248 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year.
"We're going to have a competition to see who's going to provide us with the best opportunity to win on Friday nights," he said.
Whoever emerges as the starter must be poised and ready to make quick, smart decisions from the line of scrimmage, because the Dragons are ready to roll in year two of the zone-read, Stoffel said.
"They have to have more confidence in what they're doing, but they also have to be able to understand that I'm going to put more on their plate now, all of them," he said. "They have to put in some time to understand what we want and what we're looking for when we lineup.
"That's what we're doing right now during this three-week period. We're coaching the little things, trying to get them to understand what we're looking for and the reasons we do certain things that we do, so they have the confidence to make those decisions on Friday nights for us."
Beyond identifying starters and back-ups, Stoffel said the entire team has used the summer training period to return to the basics.
"Fundamentals - we're going back to the drawing board and that's fundamentals," he said. "Offensively, it's nothing more than our first three steps as offensive linemen. It's running the correct routes and understanding the terminology for receivers. For quarterbacks, it's understanding how to throw the football correctly. Running backs, it's learning how to read. We're going to teach them how to read in our offense.
"On the defensive side of the ball, we're going to learn how to tackle. We have emphasized tackling fundamentals every day of the week we've been here and we've assisted - we're very adamant about changing the attitude of this program and we felt like we came a long way last year, but there's still a long ways to go and we know that as coaches, and we're going to emphasize that on a daily basis."
By stressing the simplest of tactics and strategy this summer, Stoffel said he hopes such things come second nature for the Red Dragons when it counts. Closing games will be key for a 2-8 squad that was tied or led at halftime in seven of its 10 contests last season.
"From there, we have to be able to finish games out and that's something we have to learn how to do this year," Stoffel said.
After an 0-7 start last season, SA won two of its final three contests as the Red Dragons finished with signs of improvement and adapting to the new offensive system.
"Once we got them to understand what we wanted and we taught them our ways and our methods, it finally sunk in with them," Stoffel said, "and we started to have some success."
With greater familiarity and understanding, Stoffel and St. Albans will look to further that success this summer and more importantly come fall.
St. Albans will continue its summer training with a 7-on-7 practice with Capital at Laidley Field at 4 p.m. Thursday.