Spring Valley, St. Albans face off tonight
A clash of two offensive schemes meet when the spread style of the St. Albans football team plays host to smash-mouth Spring Valley.
Red Dragons Coach Steve Stoffel Jr. will look to exploit match-ups with his bevy of skilled offensive players, while the Timberwolves attempt to aggressively run down field. The two teams will start the season in a Mountain State Athletic Conference game at Crawford Field at 7:30 p.m. today.
"We hope that it creates some match-up problems for them," Stoffel said of St. Albans' zone-read look. "We feel very confident in our skill kids. We're very skilled this year, more than we've been in a while.
"We go four deep at receiver, four deep at running back and two deep at quarterback," he continued, "so we're hoping that we can mix and match eight different linemen up there and keep them fresh, which would give us an advantage, we hope, and see if we can't create some match-up issues whether it's in the run game or pass game."
Sophomore Jacob Grigsby will start at quarterback, though Stoffel said junior Noah Reed, who started seven games last season, will see playing time at the position, too.
"We want to make sure to give them both opportunities to (lead) the football team in a game-like situation and they haven't had that yet," Stoffel said.
A platoon of running backs will spread the carries too, in Ryan Broderick, Kevic Watkins, Sidney Washington and Christian Jones.
"They'll all get reps and carries," Stoffel said. "When one gets hot, he'll stay until he needs a break."
At receiver, seniors Cole Medley and Dakota Kelly will figure as top targets, with support from Terrell Lovejoy and Jeffrey Seams.
The St. Albans offensive style presents a not-so-familiar look for Spring Valley.
"It makes you play the entire football field," Timberwolves Coach Brad Dingess said. "That can create a little bit of problems for us because we're not really used to seeing that in practice and the two teams we scrimmaged were Wing-T teams about like us. It's going to be different for our kids."
Though Spring Valley graduated standout running backs Elijah Wellman and Ryan George, the Timberwolves will continue to employ a run-dominated offense, Dingess said. The backs will run behind the strength of four returning offensive linemen, including potential Division-I recruits Alex Locklear and Trevor Stacy, both 6-foot-5, 295-pound tackles.
"We've got the majority of our offensive line back, especially those two big tackles in Locklear and Stacy, so I think we're pretty decent up front," Dingess said. "It's kind of the focal point of what we're doing and we're really not going to change a whole lot as far as smash-mouth football. We're just not going to have Wellman and George back there. We think we might run more of a committee of backs."
As the touted line blocks up front, tailbacks Colby Webb and Tyler Robertson will lead the running committee.
"I don't know if we'll have a one-two punch or not or tailback, fullback or just rotate tailbacks and use a fullback to lead it up there," Dingess said, "but Webb and Robertson will probably get most of the carries."
While Spring Valley will look to run first, second-year starting quarterback Tyler Brown poses a passing threat in the pocket, too.
"He's got a big grasp on what we're trying to do," Dingess said of Brown. "He put on about 15 pounds and grew two inches, too. He's worked hard in the offseason. He might be our best running back, but he's also a pretty darn good quarterback. He can throw the ball all over the place."
Dingess added there's no disguise to the Spring Valley offensive game plan.
"We want to try to make it as physical as possible," he said. "We're one of those smash-mouth-type football teams. The more physical it gets and pads are popping, the more our kids get into the ballgame."
With an improved defense, Stoffel said he's ready for the challenge of the Timberwolves offensive attack.
"We think we're better than last year on the defensive side of the ball," he said. "We worked and repped to prepare for them. They are a big and physical football team. They make no bones about it. They're going to run the ball down your throat and get after you. They don't throw it very much. They don't have to. We're just trying to get our kids prepared for that. We want to teach our kids to be physical as well."
No matter which offensive game plan works early, Stoffel said the key is late-game execution.
"Our goal is to still be in the football game in the fourth quarter and give ourselves a chance to win," he said.