Cedar Ridge expects to field a new look in 2015. Call it a “flex.” Call it a “spread” offense. Call it a “flex spread.”
Maybe it’d be better to just call it “anything.” Looking at their menu of plays, the Red Wolves just say “yes.”
“It’s more of a college-style offense, like they run at Carolina and Oklahoma State,” Cedar Ridge assistant coach Scott Loosemore said. “When we get up to the line of scrimmage, we’ll look at what the defense is giving us and run a pass or run a play based how they’re lined up.”
Steve Johnson, a 30-year veteran of coaching football, brought the scheme with him when he arrived last spring from Enloe, where he’d spent one year before heading to Hillsborough.
The reason for the quick change was simple: “Cedar Ridge is close to my home,” said Johnson, who commutes from Burlington.
Johnson coached 29 years at Burlington’s Cummings High, 21 as head coach; he won two state championships as a head coach and three as an assistant. He left Cummings in 2012, worn out by his fight with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes weakness, numbness and fatigue.
Johnson’s arrival has energized the Red Wolves, who haven’t had a winning season or been back to the playoffs since 2010, when they finished 12-3 under then-coach Joe Kilby and reached the state 2AA East final.
A solid nucleus of returnees faithfully attended summer workouts, Loosemore noted, and more than 60 players showed up for the first day of practice, up from last year’s numbers.
“Everyone knows he (Johnson) is here now,” Loosemore said. “He had a great career at Cummings. ... He has former players in the NFL. He knows what he’s doing.”
Despite last year’s 4-7 finish, Cedar Ridge has reason for optimism. Most of last year’s linemen are back, as well as quarterback Peyton Pappas and running back Shemar Miles.
“Peyton had a very good summer. We’re very pleased with the progress he’s made picking up the offense being installed by coach Johnson,” Loosemore said. “We’re looking for a good season out of Peyton.”
Starters returning: 6 on offense, 7 on defense
Offense: Flex spread
Contributors: QB Peyton Pappas; RB Shemar Miles; PK Trenton Gill; WR Marquez Hunter; LB Tyrek Jennings; WR Simon Little; OL/DL/LB Dahnte Scott; OL/DL Caleb Barlow; OL/DL Austin Holmes; OL/DL Jeremy Cates; OL/DL Eric Hampton
Player they’ll miss the most: LB Ben Rice
Expected team strength: Offensive line
Question mark: Depth on defense
The main number: 233.5 – average weight of Cedar Ridge’s returning linemen
Quotable: Loosemore: “It’s been a while since we’ve had a winning record. I think people expect things to be a little different around here this year.”
Game to watch: Aug. 28 vs. Jordan-Matthews. The Jets will test how quickly Cedar Ridge has picked up the defense.
Last five years
2014: 4-7 (2-5)
2013: 2-9 (2-5)
2012: 1-10 (1-3)
2011: 3-8 (1-3)
2010: 12-3 (3-1), 2AA East final