Three new backs charged with fueling Ford City's wing-T offense
The running game long has been the backbone of Ford City's wing-T offense, and a new trio of backs is ready for their turn to carry that tradition.
The Sabers have a new set of backfield starters this year, with senior running backs August Mantini and Chantz Schrecengost and junior fullback Garrett Virostek in line to handle the bulk of the work toting the football.
Though they don't have a wealth of varsity carries to their credit — Schrecengost is the team's top returning rusher with 69 yards on 18 carries — all three played a large part last year on defense and special teams and should be ready to add a heavier offensive workload.
“We really don't have anything we lack,” Virostek said. “We have a power running back (himself), a speed running back (Schrecengost) and just an all-around athlete running back (Mantini). I think it will be a good year for us, and I think our line will be able to hold it down.”
This year's backs will try to replace running back Devan Willyard and fullback Ben Young, a pair of seniors who combined for more than 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing last year.
With each of this year's backs having unique skills, the Sabers have a diverse playbook to use the strengths of each. While Virostek and Mantini will be featured on runs between the tackles and off-tackle, Schrecengost's speed will make him the go-to guy for outside runs.
“We're a smart group. We've got probably double the plays in than we had last year,” Mantini said. “We've got a small line, but we're fast off the ball and looking good.”
“I'd say belly or jet (motion) sweep are our best plays,” Virostek said. “We've got one of the fastest backs in the conference with Chantz, and we're going to hold down our part inside.”
Though the backs have their preferred plays in camp, it remains to be seen what the Sabers' top plays will be in game action. That, according to coach John Bartolovic, is sometimes hard to measure before the first game.
“Some years, just by personnel, some plays are better than others,” Bartolovic said. “But sometimes, for whatever reason, one play works better with a particular group of kids. Then you have plays that you think should work but don't. You really don't know until you get a chance to see it against another defense.”
Regardless of which plays work and who gets the bulk of the carries for Ford City, the backs realize that their combined productivity will be critical to the team's success. All three backs agreed that it doesn't matter to them who ends up with the most carries or yardage as long as the rushing attack is giving them a chance to win games.
“Every team needs a good running game, and we're going to run whatever play it takes to get that win,” Schrecengost said. “When it comes down to the last minute, and you're trying to run out the clock, you have to be efficient running the ball.”
“Because we run the wing-T, and we're the only team in the conference that does, we do rely on the run game, and we have to keep improving it every day,” Mantini said.