Goodbye Wing-T, hello multiple spread offense
Rolfes takes over as head coach, and players say they are ‘dedicated to the cause’
by L.A. Logan
sports/community news at Northwest Observer Newspaper(www.northwestobserver.com)
Courtesy of L.A. Logan and the Northwest Observer Newspaper….
Dedicated. Resilient. Smart. Energized. Swag.
These few words describe Northwest Guilford’s varsity football team as they set to open up the 2014 season with their new head football coach and offensive coordinator, Jared Rolfes.
Rolfes, the former Northern Guilford offensive coordinator, knows firsthand what it’s like to be a high school football player adjusting to a new coach. It happened to him in his senior year of high school.
“It became a good experience … I’m hoping to do the same thing for these guys and build a lasting relationship with all of these kids.”
Northwest’s new head coach has already been a man of his word, and since his arrival, the vibe in the locker room has begun to change.
“Coach Rolfes brings a different type of ‘swag’ to the team,” said senior defensive back Kevin Henry.
During the team’s first meeting, senior wide receiver Mark Garner said Rolfes emphasized leadership and leading by example, both on the field and in the classroom.
“We are dedicated to the cause,” confirmed Garner.
Of course, playbook transformations accompany coaching changes.
Northwest fans had to be wondering if the Wing-T was going to stay intact.
On opening night, the Vikings expected to debut a multiple spread offense and a 4-2-5 defense commanded by defensive coordinator Todd McComb, who brings coaching experience from Catawba College.
“The 4-2-5 is designed for us to be multiple versus any formation,” McComb explained. “We have simple alignments and simple assignments. We’ve seen glimpses of greatness with our guys buying into what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The Vikings are returning their starting secondary from a year ago, led by Henry, and from a pre-season view the defense looks stealthy.
McComb said stopping the run and securing tackles will be the main goals on Friday nights. From the time the Vikings step onto the field until the time they step off, McComb believes in running a detail-oriented defense.
“I want us to be an excellent tackling team,” said McComb. “We put in the time … to get our pads down, our feet popping, big wraps, heads up and running our feet until we hear the whistle.
“There is not a minute to waste. We are one heartbeat.”
However, questions need to be answered on the offensive side of the ball.
For instance, who’s going to take the snaps under center? Senior Josh Homol, who started last season, or sophomore Jake Smith, a talented newcomer?
“We have a quarterback battle,” said Rolfes. “One practice it’s been one guy, and the next practice, it seems to be the other guy.
During Homol’s junior campaign, he directed one of the most prominent offenses in the state.
Last year’s team averaged over 39 points in wins, won by an average of 22 points and outscored opponents by a combined 242 points, according to MaxPreps.com.
It’s hard for a coach to dismiss those impressive numbers, but Homol said he’s learning the playbook and knows Rolfes will make a smart decision on who starts against Smith on Aug. 22.
“He knows his X’s and O’s in the new spread offense that we’re set to run,” said Homol. “We’re going to do (what) works for us every game.
“We’re going to do whatever puts us in position to win.”
So, say goodbye to the Wing-T offense and 3-4 defense that helped Northwest to a school-best 12 wins last season.
“Nothing against the Wing-T,” said Garner, “but change is a good thing.”
Even though the Wing-T is out, Rolfes stressed that the offense will have a lot of Wing-T principles. By not kicking the formation completely to the curb, Northwest plans to keep a balanced attack by using a multitude of weapons.
The trio of wide receivers – Garner, Henry and senior Weston Haack, who didn’t play last year due to a knee injury – form a solid nucleus of deep threats.
The multiple spread offense forces opposing defenses to set up in traditional defensive sets, unlike the Wing-T.
Rolfes emphasized that the offense will not attempt 40 passes a game due to a plethora of running backs – senior Mark Murphy, senior Tariq Howard and sophomore Kyle Finnie.
Each running back brings a different dimension to the game, forcing Rolfes to employ a running back-by-committee approach.
Reflecting his positive attitude, Rolfes said people are rewarded for doing things the right way and he hopes to project his character and moral values on his players to set up a solid foundation at Northwest.
“I want to be successful as a head coach, but not for me,” said Rolfes. “I want to do it for the school, the players and the coaches.
“And I think everyone has the same goals.”
MaxPreps.com ranked the Vikings 10th in the NCHSAA 4-AA preseason polls. With that in mind, the hunter becomes the hunted.