Prep kickoff

Innovative offenses force coaches to get creative

2013-09-26T21:00:00Z 2013-09-28T01:06:17Z Innovative offenses force coaches to get creative Longview Daily News

Surely, you’ve noticed.

The points – so many points. The scores so lopsided it’s a miracle of physics the scoreboard doesn’t tip over amid the running loop of 50-plus-yard touchdowns. The offensive revolution has come to Southwest Washington.

Will no one think of the defenses?

The spread option has impacted the other side of the ball just as much, if not moreso. The stakes are clear: Adjust, or be swept away in the deluge.

Toutle Lake’s Scott Grabenhorst has been the Ducks head man for 35 years now. This isn’t his first fashionable trend: He’s seen the triple option and the West Coast short passing game come in and out of style, among other things.

Yet this one, this spread option and zone read, feels more permanent, more lasting somehow.

“It’s different in that it’s reactionary offense,” Grabenhorst said. “By design, they’re letting you cook your own goose.”

It’s changing the way defenses tick, forced them to rebel against their DNA.

Gone are the days of the defender as a blunt instrument. No longer can you send your boys out there all hopped up on hormones and adrenaline and trust aggression will conquer all.

Lose your discipline, even for a second, and you get burned.

It’s more chess match than battle of will.

“We’ve been working to try to get kids not to over penetrate or turn their hips,” Grabenhorst said.

“These offenses really take away your ability to blitz. It’s pretty risky. When you watch a team that’s really good at it, it’s almost like they’re begging you to do that. Once they get outside ...”

It’s changing the way defenses look, too.

Linebackers of yore were often two-way offensive linemen. Now, they’re the running backs and quarterbacks.

Toutle Lake linebacker Jared Corbet is the prototype: An athletic QB who knows the game, can help out in coverage and is skilled in making reads.

“In a way, it’s changed the way ‘backers are. Inside backers used to be your plug ’backers, stopping the power game,” Grabenhorst said. “Now, they’ve gotta be more agile. I think that’s one of Jared’s strengths, he’s pretty fast and agile. It really forces your linebackers to kind of be like DBs.”

Versatility is the name of the game. Even in the Central 2B League — known best for its smashmouth style of play — each team has its own variation. Each matchup brings a new set of adjustments.

“Each team’s unique,” Toutle Lake senior Jake Johnson said. “Napavine likes to run wing-sweeps, Winlock has the Wing-T, double wing. It’s different, week in and week out.”

It took the Ducks two weeks to settle in. They allowed 77 points during their 0-2 start, yet rallied to hold down Mossyrock and pick up a vital result in the playoff chase.

Hold down might be a relative term – TL gave up three scores in its victory – but 20 is the new 10. The numbers may be higher, but it’s still the same game. Getting vital stops remains a key element of the winning formula.

“It all seems to cycle out. I’ll be interested to see how this trend goes,” Grabenhorst said. “It makes it fun for the kids, playing and having guys running everywhere.”

More fun, even on D. More fun, even if the change in style is occasionally jarring.

Watch for it wherever you’re at tonight: The dozens of private battles going on during every play, the quarterback trying to catch the linebackers leaning, the DBs itching for a read. A momentary loss of focus, and the ball-carrier breaks into daylight.

Stop worrying and embrace the chaos. The defenses will catch on soon enough.

Matt Pentz covers prep sports for The Daily News. ​Reach him at 360-577-2527 or

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Matt Schubert

Matt is sports editor for The Daily News. He arrived in Longview following stints with the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star and Peninsula Daily News sports departments. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2004 and is a native of Rockford, Ill.

Kevin Dowd

Kevin is the lead preps reporter for The Daily News. He graduated in 2014 with a degree in journalism and creative writing from the University of Washington, where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. He has also worked for The Seattle Times.

Rick McCorkle

Rick is a 27-year veteran of The Daily News, and the lead Lower Columbia College athletics reporter. In addition, he tracks former area prep athletes and assists several other beats. He is a Mark Morris grad with a business management degree from LCC.



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