Our High School Training Camp Road Trip makes its final stop in Archer County, with the Holliday Eagles!
They're making a big change to their offense, hoping that it will help them surprise the state-wide experts and get back to the playoffs.
They're going back to their roots, in a way. They're moving away from the spread offense they've been using the past several years, and bringing in the Wing-T as their primary formation.
"We've got a couple running backs we think can do the job," said third-year head coach Frank Johnson. "And we think this offense is more suited to the type of kids we have."
One of those backs is senior Trace Grimstead, who shows his versatility by playing four different positions: in addition to running back, he's also taking reps at wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker.
"Well I like it," Grimstead said of the new offense. "It's going back to like, how we were back in the day. Like old 'smashmouth football,' as Coach would say to us."
Another group that should like the change is the offensive line, where the Eagles bring back a good amount of starters.
"A lot of kids like that, 'Hey I get to go hit somebody hard, as fast as I can, this type of offense,'" Coach Johnson said.
"When I found out we were going to run the Wing-T, it was beyond exciting for me," said senior lineman Matt Jones. "Knowing that I was going to get to hit a lot more people on full speed, than just having to sit there and kinda catch them for pass blocking."
The timing of the change is a bit unusual, only because the Eagles bring back a talented, experienced starting quarterback in senior Levi Draper. But he says the transition is going well.
"It's kinda similar to when I was way younger," the third-year starter said. "So I am used to the under-center, and taking the snaps and handing off, but as far as the backs and stuff, it's just hiding the football, and making the plays. And just as long as we get it into the hands of the right guys, we're doing good."
One big goal for the Eagles this season is to end a two-year playoff drought, which for a town with the football tradition of Holliday, is a long time. Before 2014, they hadn't missed the playoffs since 2005 and hadn't missed in consecutive years since 1988-90.
"It is a very tough district, very competitive, and if you read Dave Campbell's and those kinda stuff, we're not picked in the top four," Coach Johnson concedes. "But we're going to pretend like we're stupid and don't know how to read."
"I've never made the playoffs, and a lot of these guys on this team have never made the playoffs," said Draper. "I don't think anybody, actually, has once the graduating class left. And it's just a motivation. We want to see what it's like, we want to get to the playoffs, and we want to prove that we belong there."
"It'd be great," Grimstead said. "Senior year, gotta make playoffs."
The Eagles open up the season on the road against Stamford, who they beat in a mild home upset to start last season, on August 28th!