The Prince Avenue Christian School Wolverines football team featured an offense that averaged over 43 points-per-game last season.
When asked whether or not there would be any changes made to that side of the ball this season, head coach Greg Vandagriff responded with a laugh and a to-the-point answer.
“Don’t change what works,” Vandagriff said.
While a high-powered offense has worked to lead the Wolverines to four consecutive appearances in the state semifinal, this variation of the team will feature some slight variations to past offensives.
Most notably, the Wolverines will be relying much more on the running game than the team did in 2018. Vandagriff said that last year the team was hesitant at times to run the football and often chose passing plays during critical situations. This year, the team will be focusing on opening up passing opportunities through success on the ground.
The PACS rushing attack will be led by senior running back Tyler Payne. Payne rushed for over 420 yards during the 2018 season, and Vandagriff said that an improved offseason workout plan has the Wolverines believing he will contribute even more this year.
“[Payne] has gone to some other kind of workout program that many humans have never seen before,” Vandagriff said. “He dropped about 15 pounds, got about two-tenths faster...so we’re expecting big things from him.”
While the Wolverines expect Payne to run wild on opposing defenses, they also believe that offensive line play will be a strength for the team this season due in large part to the depth in that position group.
The team’s roster currently sits at 50 players, and close to one-fifth of it is dedicated to a lineman group that rotates out and plays on both sides of the ball. Senior tackle David Bach said this helps the team both in practice and in-game situations.
“It’s nice to have a lot of younger guys just to be able to rotate,” Bach said. “When I’m practicing or doing offensive line stuff they’re fresh so they’re always ready to go.”
That depth and rotation will also play a pivotal role in the team’s wide receiver corps this season. While the group lost several players from last season such as star receivers Mack Simmons, Christian Parrish and Elijah Hynes, Vandagriff expressed confidence in their ability to replace that production.
“We do have some kids we think are going to have a really good year,” Vandagriff said. “They are as talented [as former players], they just haven’t proven it on the field just yet so I think we are going to shock some people with some talent at wide receiver.”
As the season draws closer, Vandagriff said the only motto he has for a team looking to break through to their first state final is one simple word.