A busy week of preparation is already underway for coaches and players involved in Friday’s Nation Ford-Lancaster football game.
Nation Ford (0-3) has used four quarterbacks in three games, while Lancaster (1-2) regularly employs four different ball-carriers. That means hours in front of the computer for opposing coordinators, position coaches and their players planning for every unique situation. It also means neither team has settled on its central offensive play-makers one-third of the way through the regular season and that anxiety is growing as region play nears.
“Anytime you’re 0-3 things can go south, quick,” said Falcons coach Michael Allen. “
Nation Ford has turned the ball over 12 times in three games, with every giveaway stemming from the QB position. Mason Scott and Taylor Teti came into the fall competing for the starting QB job but both struggled in the first two games. Neither played against York last week.
“We’ve had to have some really hard conversations,” said Nation Ford offensive coordinator Zac Lendyak. “You’re getting phone calls, you’re getting emails, and I get it, parents love their kids. But we have to do what’s best for the team right now.”
Instead, Nation Ford opted for Dewuan McCullum and Ben Tuipulotu, two of the best athletes on the team but certainly not QBs before this season. Neither are natural passers, though Tuipulotu has potential. It’s been a humbling experience for Lendyak, who was fortunate the last five years coaching consecutive college football QBs Dalton Helms, Cole Martin and Kirk Rygol.
“We were really, really spoiled,” said Lendyak. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really frustrated right now, having to run four different quarterbacks out there in the first three games. I can say these guys are doing everything we’re asking them to do.”
Nation Ford’s 2016 offensive yardage and scoring versus 2017:
Lancaster, which hasn’t played particularly well on either side of the ball, has had similar struggles scoring. The Bruins have the biggest offensive line in the area but haven’t found a clear lead back to replace Ant Foster and Farrika Grier, tremendous high school football backs now playing college football. QB Kemarkio Cloud and running back Asont’a Clark are starting to emerge as the primary running threats.
The Bruins’ offensive issues are compounded by a passing game that hasn’t lifted off yet. Lancaster hasn’t thrown for more than 89 yards in any of its three games yet, enabling opposing defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage. Bobby Collins’ crew dominated possession of the football against Chester last week, but had little to show at the end of the contest. Chester only had the ball three times in the first half and fumbled on its opening drive of the second half before scoring on five straight possessions to break the contest open. The Bruins are not built to come from behind.
If their defense performs against a Falcons offense still in flux, the Bruins won’t have to overcome a losing position.
“We’ve got to worry about formation recognition, we got to worry about run fits, making sure everybody gets into coverage,” Collins said. “Whoever is behind the center, we’re gonna let that take care of itself.”