THS football rolling with the new
With each new football season comes new expectations, new players and, inevitably, new schemes and plays to master.
Early indications are that the Tonganoxie High offense already is ahead of the learning curve in 2008.
During the Chieftains' five-day summer camp (July 28-Aug. 1), coach Mark Elston and the THS staff began the initial stages of getting their players acclimated to a new no-huddle offense they want to have operational by the team's season opener Sept. 5 versus Prairie View.
Elston said the players, even the ones without previous varsity experience, showed a knack for picking up the new offensive package and its nuances at camp, demonstrating great concentration the entire week. Even though the Chieftains were getting their first crack at the no-huddle and a few other different things, Elston said the coaches only counted four false starts the entire camp.
"The new stuff that we've put in, they've adapted to it very well," he said.
Senior lineman Clinton Kissinger said even though it is a different approach, the offense is coming together because it is more basic this year. Kissinger said there are fewer audibles and the players are understanding the offense a lot more than last season.
Players spent a great deal of camp time in three distinct groups - linemen, backs and receivers - as they worked on specific assignments within the offense, but they came together at the end of each day to put it together as a unit.
Junior receiver Justin Jacobs said going no-huddle was difficult at first.
"Picking it up has been a challenge, but we're getting it down good now," Jacobs said, noting that the team progressed each night at camp. "Everybody's starting to know where to block and starting to flow good."
Jeremy Carlisle, who started at quarterback as a freshman last year, said the key to the camp reps was making everything more crisp and routine.
"We've got everything from last year that we've learned and right now we're just making that so we act more in sync," Carlisle said.
New year, new attitude
The new wrinkle to the offense was just one big change observed at THS football camp. Many players also noted an improved attitude from last season, when the Chieftains went 1-8.
According to a few players, some people on last year's squad had trouble getting along at times. There were disagreements, fights and, at times, a cloud of malcontent hovering over certain players.
Kissinger said those days appear to be over.
"This year everybody's getting along, everybody's working together," he said.
Billy Seymour, another senior lineman, agreed, saying that none of the Chieftains are arguing this year.
"I haven't seen a fight yet," Seymour said.
Carlisle said Kissinger, Seymour and the other seniors on the team have made a point to keep things cordial among the players.
"I'm not gonna lie, they're all pretty good leaders and I know they want to make a difference this year," Carlisle said. "They're doing all the small things they have to to make that difference."
Senior middle linebacker Boomer Carey said all the Chieftains were on the same page this year.
"We've got total dedication," he said.