Out goes the aerial attack, in comes ground and pound for Thomas More Prep-Marian.
After relying heavily on passing under Jason Cauley, the Monarchs are getting adjusted to the triple option and smash-mouth football under new coach David Bowen.
“Our first-string quarterback, Carson Jacobs, he’s picking it up,” Bowen said. “We’re learning our pitches. We’ve been watching a lot of film and studying tape. We rep and rep and rep. But learning the triple option in one season is not something that happens very easily.
“The first game we’ll keep kind of a base package. As the weeks go on and I feel like we can open it up a little bit, we’ll start seeing a little more pitches and a little more corner routes.”
Bowen, who spent the last two years as head coach at Stanton County, said he believes his run-oriented offense could solve several offensive issues TMP has struggled with the last couple seasons.
“It’s a completely different offense than they’ve ran in the past here at TMP,” Bowen said. “They had problem with time of possession. They had problem with slowing other teams down and keeping the score down. Those are three things that this offense should help us on immediately.
“This smash-mouth mentality we’re going to have, I think it will help this team get off to the right foot this first year.”
A couple keep cogs in the offense will be fullbacks Kaleb Hagans and Colby Dreiling.
“Both of those guys have really stepped up,” Bowen said. “Between the two of them, having to be fresh legs over there, I think our fullback play is going to shock some people this year. They’re going to have to tackle those guys over and over and over.”
Hagans is also the top returner on defense, racking up 148 tackles at linebacker last year for the Monarchs, who went 3-6 last season.
“I’ve always viewed myself as a leader, but this year I feel like everybody’s looking up to me,” Hagans said. “Coming back as one of the few starters, I’ve got to put a lot of it on me, and then we have to work as a team.”
Bowen also expects a strong year out of receiver/defensive back Grant Ginther.
“He’s been a great vocal leader for this team,” Bowen said.
Depth could be an early concern for the Monarchs, who had 25 players for last Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
“I’m doing everything I can to get more out,” Bowen said. “This isn’t my first time taking over a program so I fully understand that that first year’s usually rough. We’d like to get it rolling and be the best team we can this year and moving forward.”
The Monarchs, who will play in Class 2A this year, will open against Smith Center, last year’s Class 2-1A state champion, at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Field Stadium.
“It’s a special week,” Bowen said. “We get to go play Smith Center. New offense, new team, new look. Curious to see what we can do.”