2013 KHQA GRIDIRON PLAYBOOK: THE SAUKEES HUNT FOR A RED NOVEMBER
Eli Petty: "Losing Zach (Abney) is huge. He had, I think 1400 yards last season. He was pretty much the heart and soul of our offense. And we had to rely on him a lot."
Wayde Smith: "We are going to miss him a lot. But we've also got a lot of other keys. Our running backs and I think our passing game has improved a lot from last year as well."
There is seemingly no one way, nor any one person, with which to fill the Abney Void in the Saukee Offense. So Don Bigley is parceling out responsibility and hoping that diversity delivers defensive undoing. For the power component in his offense, he will turn to fullback Isaac Whitaker.
Don Bigley: "Our game is to pound the ball at people and Ike is the perfect back for that. He weighs about 205. Big strong kid. I talked to him this summer about: are your ready to get 20-25 carries a game like Zach did last year."
Wayde Smith: "Yes, Ike can run over some people. But out Offensive Line lost quite a bit of size. At the same time, we fill a lot of shoes. Logan (Thiele) played a lot last year. He started. Bryce Lind...he went out with an injury but he's back. William Slayden is stepping up. And we've got some underclassmen that we have like a Cody Hayden, he's doing really well too."
But in counterbalance, the Saukees are looking to infuse a dynamic dimension to the Offense as well. And that calls for exploiting the athleticism and creativity of their uniquely talented Quarterback.
Don Bigley: "We've got some different things that we've added this summer for Wayde to try to get him the ball in space. He's very very athletic. He's very quick. We need him to throw the ball better than he did last season. We've got to complete 8-9 play action passes a game. If we throw 15 passes a game and complete 8 or 9 of them, that's going to balance out what we do running the football."
Defensively, the Saukees seemed to turn a significant corner last season suring up their play against the run. A mix of size and athleticism up front with potential All Conference Candidates Eli Petty and Logan Thiele will set a significant tone.
Eli Petty: "Two years ago we realized we were scoring plenty of points but that our defense was weak. We realized our Defense had to improve the most."
Logan Thiele: "We are more a team this year. We are going out here fighting every day at practice. And we are more aggressive. We are ready to go."
Don Bigley: "Where we got hurt was the last three games of the season when we played teams who threw it 30 times or more against us. And we struggled covering the pass. That has been a big point of emphasis for us this summer. We know that is what we have to get better at."
Bottom line, there is plenty of motivation for the Saukees in that Department as this is a group that has gotten tired of being left out in the cold come November.
Don Bigley: "We lost three games to state ranked teams last year by less than a touchdown; where one or two plays in a game make the difference between winning an losing. And we've talked to them, again, all summer about whether you are 6-3 or 7-2 is if you make that play. If you make that play, you win. You win that close game. And if you don't make that play, you come up short like we did last year."