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Football 2012: Monarch offense to meet in the middle

Published on -8/30/2012, 10:50 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

In the past decade, Thomas More Prep-Marian fans have been treated to the toss-and-trap, run-heavy offense of former coach Gene Flax and the spread-formation, pass-heavy offense of former coach Jon Borer.

First-year TMP head coach John Montgomery promises his offense will be somewhere between those two extremes.

"We can't be 100-percent run, and we can't be 100-percent pass, so finding that middle ground, that's the goal of the coaching staff," Montgomery said.

The offense will utilize more two-running back sets with the quarterback taking a majority of the snaps under center.

"We took 95 percent or maybe even 99 percent of our snaps out of the shotgun the last two years," Montgomery said. "You're going to see a shift. ... It will look a little bit different than what we've seen the past two years."

Montgomery said he decided to make the shift to a more balanced offense to fit his personnel.

The Monarchs have strong runners in senior Luke Brull and sophomore Nick Schmidt, and they graduated six of their 10 receivers who registered receptions last season.

In fact, with senior Shane Zimmerman transitioning from wide receiver to quarterback, the Monarchs' only returning wide receiver who made a catch last season is junior Ryan Mayorga.

It's not just pass catchers who graduated, though. Nine of the Monarchs' 11 all-MCAA players from last year were seniors.

However, Montgomery said he's excited about his personnel moving forward.

"When you look at returning lettermen or returning starters, we don't have a lot, but what we do have is two groups of guys in a senior class and a junior class that I feel have bought in 100 percent," he said. "Their commitment, their effort, they are doing what it takes to give themselves an opportunity to be successful."

Zimmerman said he thinks the new offense will keep teams off balance.

"I think the balance will make the defense honor both types of plays more than just being a pass offense or a run offense," he said. "We can hit them as a team with multiple threats."

Zimmerman will fill the rather large shoes left behind by all-state quarterback Nick Hammeke, who set multiple school records for single-season and career passing yards and touchdowns in Borer's pass-heavy scheme.

"With Shane being a senior, he's kind of been through the fire a little bit," Montgomery said. "We are looking at him to step in. ... He's a guy you know can tuck it and run it and can pass it when need be. He's very versatile."

However, it wasn't a clear-cut decision. Montgomery said his coaching staff was impressed by the performance of young up-and-comer sophomore Max Megaffin during the summer and fall practices as well.

Megaffin made it an actual battle for the starting job, and Montgomery said he envisions Megaffin could be the Monarchs' future at quarterback.

"Max has the ability to run, but standing in the pocket, he's got a tall presence and has the ability to deliver the ball," Montgomery said.

In the Blue and White Scrimmage on Friday at TMP's practice field, Brull showed he can be a strong runner, breaking several long gains which included a couple runs for 50-yard touchdowns.

Mayorga, who is 6-foot-2, also made a few grabs. He caught three passes for 50 yards last season before getting injured and missing the rest of the season.

"(Mayorga) brings height and some neat things to the wide receiver position," Montgomery said. "I look for him to be an impact player."

Senior Anthony Walters and sophomore Cameron Fouts could split time at tight end and on the offensive line this season. Both played on the offensive line last year.

Montgomery said other linemen could include juniors Adam Schibi (6-3, 225), Nick Schumacher (5-11, 235) and Aaron Moore (6-1, 245) and sophomores Parker Cox (6-1, 200) and Dan O'Connor (5-10, 160).

"I have all the faith in our offensive line," Montgomery said. "I have a couple coaches who have been working really hard with them. The kids have put in a tremendous amount of work. They are taking pride in the offensive line."

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