McGuffey coach excited about option offense

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Running an efficient option offense is no small task, let alone trying to install it as a new system in a short amount of time with a team that went winless the previous season.

But that was the task Ed Dalton faced in his inaugural season coaching McGuffey after being hired last spring.

“Taking over late and everything last year, for us to win five games, we thought we did pretty well,” Dalton said.

Now after a full season and an entire offseason program under their belts, the Highlanders are hoping to fire on all cylinders this season.

Dalton said as the season went along, his team began executing the complex option offense at a better rate. He hopes that carries into this year with nine returning starters.

“(It clicked) especially up front,” Dalton said. “People sometimes think the read is the hard thing to teach — it's part of it — but the front is the thing. To get those guys to block their assignments and do what they're supposed to do, once the line started to do that, we really started to take off.”

That line returns four starters, including all-conference tackle Nick Matheny and guard Ryan Ward. Junior tackle AJ Johnson also will bolster the unit.

The rushing attack once again will be led by junior James Duchi, who had 1,514 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. Trinity transfer Patrick Frey will add to an already strong backfield after gaining 901 yards in 2012.

Dual-threat quarterback Nate Whipkey, a junior, also returns.

“Our backfield, if you add (Frey's) yards, we have (around) 3,000 yards of rushing coming back,” Dalton said.

“In our last two games, Duchi ran for 520 yards. He got better at it and just went crazy, so hopefully we can keep building and start where we left off and not start from scratch.”

Even with its intimidating ground game, McGuffey hopes to keep defenses off-balance with its passing game, where Adam Narigan returns as the Highlanders top receiver.

“If you can't throw it a lick, teams can get a ninth and 10th guy down there and give you fits,” Dalton said.

Defensively, McGuffey will feature a big front with Matheny, Ward and Johnson to go along with an experienced secondary, including cornerback Kendrix Reed and Frey at free safety.

“Hopefully, we can take a step forward on defense also,” Dalton said.

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