WELLINGTON — Change is in the air at Wellington this season — in the lineup and in the playbook.
That doesn’t mean the Dukes are scrapping the Wing-T, which has been a staple under head coach Matt Stoll the past two decades. No, the Wing-T and the running game aren’t going anywhere, but Wellington does plan on putting the ball in the air more this season.
“We think we have the personnel where we can pass the ball more and we want to take advantage of that,” Stoll said. “We’re not abandoning the run and it will still be a large part of what we do. But we think we can do a more efficient job throwing the ball this year and we’re giving the guys a chance to do just that.”
Those guys include junior quarterback Jason Perry and receivers Zac Gilbert, Devon Broadwater, Alex Cherpak and Nathan Gray. Running backs Clay Wright and Austen Fullen will also get in on the action as dual threats on the ground and through the air.
Listen to coach Matt Stoll talk about the season with WEOL’s Jim Allen:
Wellington, which last year ran 412 rushing plays for 2,366 yards versus 114 passing plays for 905 yards, would like to throw enough to keep opponents guessing at what’s coming next so they can’t just key on the run.
And that sounds pretty good to Perry, who is in his first year leading the offense.
“I think we’re going to have a really good time with it,” Perry said of the new passing plays. “The run is still going to be there but we’re going to be able to air it out when we want to or need to.
My job is a lot easier since we have a great group of receivers for me to throw to.”
Cherpak, a senior, is one of those guys. Though he caught only two passes last year, he’s looking to be an impact player this season.
“I think it is really going to be neat offense to be a part of,” Cherpak said. “It feels like a whole new offense. I think it’s really going to be wide open and surprising each time we line up. It’s been a bit of an adjustment working the new plays in, but as a receiver I am really excited.
“I think this offense fits our team really well this year.”
Team is the operative word because it’s not just the quarterbacks and receivers who are adjusting to the new offense. The linemen and coaches are learning as well.
“It’s not exactly what we’re used to doing but we’re coming along,” said sophomore lineman Ryan Alspach. “In the past it was a lot of run, run and run. Now we’re working on pass protections so our quarterback has the time to find the receivers.”
For the coaches, the hardest thing might be staying the course and not reverting into a comfort zone by calling all running plays.
“It’s definitely a different way of calling the game,” Stoll said. “It’s an adjustment for us coaches as well as the kids. But we have confidence in the players that they’ll be able to execute the play that’s called. So far they’ve done a good job and we expect them to carry that confidence into the season.”
More high school football previews
- Elyria ready to chase playoffs
- EC has plenty to be excited about
- Midview has depth, confidence, too
- Rangers staying hungry
- Keystone counting on defense
- Wellington plans to throw more
- Avon Lake needs a runner
- Amherst expects to be even better this year
- Oberlin staying positive despite heavy graduation losses
- Lorain has high hopes for Titans
- Clippers feel new guys are prepared
- Columbia thinks this season could be a special one
- Brookside’s comfort level rising
- Are Sailors on the way back up?
- Olmsted Falls relying on excellent senior class
- Firelands’ focus on present, not future
- Avon looks to return to playoffs
- Pay-to-pay hasn’t derailed North Olmsted’s optimism
- Black River loaded with talent
- Lutheran West hoping to stay healthy this season
- Coach thinks Westlake will have big year
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.