By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
Its back to the future for 2006 Portales High School football, but there aren’t any winged time machines, instead, its the wing-T offense. This year’s version of the red and white gridiron warriors have a new head coach, who’s actually a former assistant coach, and a fresh new offense that isn’t really new at all.
Andy Correll is back in Portales, and back in high school football after a four year break. Correll coached the offense under Glen Johnson for three years, (99-’02) before heading to Texas, and now returns to Portales, replacing Johnson, with the wing-T offense in his tool belt.
“This isn’t going to be much of a change for a lot of our players’ parents, and other folks, because (the wing-T) was used here several years ago under coach Bobby Crane,” Correll said. “Its been around here for awhile and the fans will certainly recognize it with some new wrinkles we have planned.”
At its basic elements, the wing-T is a misdirection offense, that places three backs in prime location for counters, fakes, and other misdirection plays. Known mostly as a running formation, it also provides good passing opportunities for quick crossing patterns and out passes. Correll plans to mix plenty of passes in with his version of the offense.
“We’re going to try and balance the offense about 60/40, throwing the ball about 40 percent of the time. We’ve got the kids that can spread the field.”
The Portales boys are eager to put last season behind them, a season in which they won just three of their ten games, (3-7) none of their district games, (0-3) and had an opening round exit in the class 3A state playoffs.
The Rams graduated six seniors last year, but with more than 20 seniors on the field this season, its a very experienced team having to learn a new offense.
“They’re picking it up,” Correll said, “And every week we’ll add more sets, more formations, and more plays.”
Breaking down his tools on offense, Correll likes what he has at quarterback, led by senior Richard Cage, junior Chris Mosier and sophomore Michael Trujillo. “The quarterback in the wing-T has to be a good leader, and has to be able to run effectively as well as make the throws, and we’ve got some good athletes at the quarterback position,” Correll said.
The offensive backfield will be populated by several good athletes, led by senior Eric Segovia, back from a torn ACL suffered last season.
“Eric is a big kid, and he can play a couple of positions in the backfield, fullback and tailback,” Correll said.
The returning coach likes the size on the offensive line as well, with senior right tackle Chris Christiansan (6’3 250) and center Davie Riser (currently out with a high ankle sprain).
At the wide receiver position, Correll likes what he sees from senior wide out Hunter Rackler.
“He’s a big kid, about 6’4, 200 pounds, the other team’s corner’s are going to have a tough time matching up with Hunter.”
The defensive backfield lineup remains up for grabs, but Correll likes what he sees from Cruz Ontiveros at cornerback. The linebacking crew will be led by senior middle linebacker Taylor Teague, somebody Correll calls a ball hog.
He’s always making plays on the ball.”
Correll also has a couple of anchors on the defensive line, senior defensive tackle Erett Grubbs, and junior defensive end Matt Pena.
The schedule-makers seem to have it in for the Rams from the very start this season, as the Rams open up their 2006 campaign at the defending 3A state champion Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals.
The Rams opener is followed by games against Texas teams Muleshoe and Slaton, the Rams also play Roswell High, Goddard, Tucumcari, and that’s before they even get to their district 4-3A group with Lovington, Ruidoso and NMMI.
But don’t tell Correll it’ll be a tough first year.
“We’re going to need a little patience from the fans and parents, but this could be a diamond in the rough type of season,” Correll said. “Obviously, district football is the key, and we want to be peaking when the district schedule starts.”