Return to a running offense has helped ’Cats get back to winning
Back in the late 1990s and into the new millennium, the Fruita Monument High School football team was making annual trips and sometimes long forays into the Class 4A state playoffs.
The heart of the success offensively for the Wildcats was the veer offense — a quarterback who knew when to keep the ball, when to hand off and who to hand it off to.
When the Wildcats made the jump to Class 5A six years ago, they decided that in order to be competitive with the bigger and stronger Front Range teams, they’d have to establish an effective passing game.
Now the Wildcats are turning back the page, returning to what made them the most successful in the past decade.
Coach Bill Moore and his staff took a look during the offseason at what was working and, more importantly, what might work with the players they had returning.
“It fits our kids’ needs more than what we’d been doing,” Moore said.
Having three seniors in the backfield has helped. Only quarterback Brett Nankervis was a starter last year, but tailback Mike Campbell and fullback Sean Hillman have picked up the concepts quickly.
“Last year we were all young,” said Campbell, who started the final three games last season and is in his first full year as a starting running back. “It helps that we have a year of experience. We’re more consistent.”
The great thing for Moore is that none of the players care who gets the credit.
“That’s how our offense runs,” Campbell said. “If you stop one of us, the others are open.”
The numbers bear that out.
Nankervis has rushed for 366 yards in four games, Hillman for 282 and Campbell for 269.
“Brett gets more opportunities to run the ball,” Moore said.
Blocking for the spread offense favors bigger teams.
“You’re trying to hold them back,” Moore said.
The veer is better for a smaller team.
“It’s more one-on-one (blocking),” Moore said. “The smaller guy can still hang with his block long enough to do the job.”
As a fullback, Hillman’s main job is blocking, serving as lead interference for Campbell or as a pass-protection blocker for Nankervis.
“That’s my job,” he said.
At 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds, Hillman is not your prototypical fullback.
“Size is a big thing, but when you go a hundred percent, you’re hard to stop,” said Hillman, who said desire is one of his best attributes.
“His strength makes up for his lack of size,” Moore said.
Having two backs lining up in the I formation takes a lot of pressure off Nankervis.
“It opens up stuff for me when I run it,” said Nankervis, who also led the Wildcats in rushing last season.
The all-for-one approach has served the Wildcats (3-1) well through the nonconference season.
“As long as we get the yards and get in the end zone, I really don’t care,” Nankervis said.
As long as they keep winning, neither do his two backfield mates.