Game of the Week: Knights learning to play without starting RB
Published on -9/13/2012, 1:42 PM
By CONOR NICHOLL
VICTORIA -- Victoria senior running back/linebacker Dalton Dreiling had rushed for more than 1,850 yards in his career and was entering his third year as a starter this fall. No current Knight had more experience. However, in the season opener against Macksville, Dreiling took a helmet to the knee. Dreiling could have torn his anterior cruciate ligament, but suffered damage to the medial collateral ligament and meniscus.
"To be honest, watching it on film, we were lucky he was kind of bringing his foot up, he wasn't just planting it, or it could have been a lot worse, I think," Knights coach Doug Oberle said.
An ACL injury would have likely ended Dreiling's football and basketball seasons.
However, Dreiling can walk with a crutch, but still is expected to miss significant time this fall. Dreiling was expected to have a MRI earlier this week.
"Thought it was something minor, but the knee is not responding the way they want it to, so he is pretty much in a holding pattern," Oberle said. "I don't look for him any time soon."
Without Dreiling, Victoria has started 1-1 and struggled on defense and in the running game. Last week, the Knights rushed for just 80 yards on 35 carries.
"It's definitely tough, because he was obviously one of the stars, but we have to kind of learn how to play without him," junior quarterback Sam Ottley said.
Ottley led the team with 19 rushes for 28 yards. Ottley did complete 6 of 15 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns, all to Noah Dreiling.
"It's definitely challenged us," Oberle said. "At the fullback position, we are not very deep. We have tried some different things and will continue to try some different things and we will mix some personnel around,
Junior Tanner Hobbs has stepped in at linebacker. Hobbs and Dreiling rotated in at linebacker versus Macksville before the injury. Hobbs, who started at defensive back last season, has 15 tackles, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss this season.
"Tanner has got to step up and get better each and every week," Oberle said.
Victoria has permitted 30 points and 282.5 yards per game. Last year, against a schedule that featured five playoff teams, the Knights allowed 20 points and 197.9 yards per contest.
"Defensively, it really hurts us, I think," Oberle said. "Because you have a guy who is essentially a three-year starter at that position, and is able to kind of help everybody get to where they need to get, and has been a leader for us on that side of the ball. That's where we really miss Dalton a lot, I think, defensively."
Offensively, one bright spot is Ottley, Victoria's fifth different starting quarterback in as many years. Ottley, the younger brother of Jordan and Brett Ottley, two former all-state Knight football players, has completed 12 of 21 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 38 times for 139 yards and two TDs.
"I have a long ways to go, I know that, but it's going good," Ottley said.
It's arguably Victoria's best passing attack this early in the season since 2009. Last year, the Knights struggled passing early in the fall with Corey Dinkel, a run-heavy signal caller. Two years ago, Victoria had problems with dropped passes with quarterback Cody Scheck.
"His passing right now is good," Oberle said. "Much further along than what I thought it would be at this time. Again, we ask a lot of our quarterback in our system with the reads and the option, and it takes time. Sam, it's his second game, and we will continue to look for that growth."
Without Dreiling, the backfield is still a work in progress. One change Oberle wants to implement is lessening Ottley's carries.
"I don't want Sam carrying the ball 20 times," Oberle said. "We needed to make some different reads at times, and those didn't always happen. But Sam is a smart kid, an intelligent kid."
Last year, Clayton Roth rushed for 527 yards on just 51 carries. This season, Roth, a junior, had nine carries for 70 yards in the season opener and five carries for 22 yards last Friday. Sophomore Bryan Dome has collected 15 carries for 88 yards this season, while Hobbs had five carries for 13 yards last Friday.
"I don't think I did a very good job of getting the ball to people in places to where we needed to get it," Oberle said. "St. John was very aggressive, came forward, did a great job of tackling, didn't miss any tackles.
"Clayton is a big part of our offense, and we have got to get him running the ball better and we need to get our front to do a better job of blocking and hopefully some of those things will clear for him," he added. "It definitely hurts him not having Dalton in there at times, not having that other person that other people have to key on a little bit."