EDGEWOOD, Ky. -- David Brossart and his coaching staff knew their Dixie Heights football team was going to have to run the ball this season and run it a lot.
The Colonels were inexperienced at quarterback and had a solid stable of running backs returning. But Brossart didn’t simply increase the amount of running plays called in his pro-style/I-formation offense. He reached back into football past for the old wing-T offense, a formation he had some experience with in his first assistant coaching job under Kevin Siple at Indian Hill in 1999.
“We decided we needed to commit to the run and we decided the wing-T was the way to go,” Brossart said. “We transitioned from a pro-style/I-formation team to an offense where we can hand the ball off to two or three kids a night.”
The wing-T has worked. The Colonels (7-5) had rushed for 3,068 yards through 11 games before beating Fern Creek last Friday.
Dixie was second in the state in Class 5-A in rushing with 2,785 regular-season yards on the ground. Through 11 games, the Colonels had amassed only 441 yards through the air and it’s no secret that they’re going to run the ball on nearly every play.
“We’re running the ball -- and I’m not kidding -- 95 percent of the time,” Brossart said.
Only a few teams run the wing-T these days with most high-school squads running the spread and throwing the ball around. It’s an old offense -- probably 60 or 70 years old -- and when defenses don’t see it each week, it’s hard to prepare for. Opponents have to gameplan differently than they normally do from week to week
“In my opinion, the wing-T is something you can't just overlook,” Dixie Heights senior running back/outside linebacker Cam Barrett said. “With the different plays you can run off of it, as a defender, you have to respect it and game plan differently.”
Senior running back Jose Torres led Dixie with 1,395 yards on 167 carries with 16 touchdowns and Barrett had added 701 yards on 77 carries with six touchdowns. Torres is the featured back that the Colonels try to get 20-to-25 carries each game. He was hobbled with a bad ankle toward the end of the season and had three weeks in which he didn’t play much at all. But two weeks ago he was back with 22 carries for 163 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-12 win over Southern.
“Jose is an excellent athlete,” Barrett said. “He has great vision and acceleration so when he sees a hole he takes off and just keeps trucking. I was with Jose in the offseason working out with football and track and I noticed how hard he has worked from last season to now.”
Barrett is a perimeter runner who complements Torres, according to Brossart. He gets the ball about eight or nine times per game and would get it more, but he is also the Colonels’ starting outside linebacker on defense.
“Cam is a great and hard runner when he gets the ball,” Torres said. “He brings a lot to the offense. With his speed, strength, and his size, he can really play any of the skilled positions out on the field.”
Senior quarterback Austin Rice is also a threat to run the ball with 548 yards on 80 carries with three scores. Junior running back Brandon Barker has carried 85 times for 439 yards and three touchdowns and senior running back Giante Hicks has added 206 yards on 39 carries and three scores.
“Our offense is successful because every single one of those guys out there puts it all out on the line for one another,” Torres said. “Whether it's the offensive line or the skilled players, we just go out there and give it our all. Every single one of them works their butt off.”
Junior left tackle Kairus Washington and junior center Garrett Vallandingham lead a young yet experienced offensive line.
“Last year we started four sophomores up front and now we have four juniors and one senior,” Brossart said. “Kairus Washington is an excellent player. We run behind him two-thirds of the time. He just gets it done. Garrett Vallandingham is probably the most valuable player on our team. He’s just a great player and a great part of our team. All five of them are great. Those kids really get after it.”
Along with all the rushing yards, the Colonels have controlled the clock about 60 percent of the time on offense, according to Brossart’s best estimation.
“We want to methodically move the ball down the field and we want to get a string of first downs,” Brossart said. “It’s our goal to go 10 or 12 plays and get six or seven minutes off the quarter, play good defense and win a low-scoring game.”