By Todd Wills
Special to the Daily Sun
Shane Doege had this vision all along for Wortham.
He graduated from Texas Tech. Mike Leach was the coach then. Doege fell in love with the Air Raid Offense.
His players at Wortham have fallen for the spread offense too.
“I love it a lot more than the other offenses,” said quarterback Witty Busby, who has also seen the Bulldogs line up in the Double Wing and the I Formation during his high school career.
“I’m able to see over the line of scrimmage being in the shotgun,” said Busby, who is a 6-foot senior. “It’s going to help us a lot. It’s hard to defend a spread offense.”
Doege joined then head coach Jerry Young’s staff five years ago as the defensive coordinator and watched as the Bulldogs ran the Double Wing for two seasons. All 11 offensive players were packed in the tackle box.
“It was basically three yards and a cloud of dust,” Doege said.
When Doege took over as head coach last season, he installed the I Formation, but always had the Bulldogs in the Gun offense in the back of his mind.
He finally used it in Wortham’s first district game last season against Meridian. The Bulldogs passed for 291 yards, but it took them a while to find the end zone. Wortham scored two touchdowns in the final 8:44 of the game — Busby scored the game-tying TD playing receiver — and the Bulldogs won 15-8, the crucial win that put them in the playoffs.
Wortham also threw for 320 yards against Dawson. The Bulldogs had some success passing the ball in their district losses to Hubbard and Frost.
The spread had arrived in Wortham.
“I wanted us to get there and not be to drastic with it,” Doege said. “I wanted to move out and use more of the field. I felt like with our kids from seventh grade all the way up to 12th grade it fits us and who we are.
“We have a lot of guys in the program who can catch the ball and run disciplined routes. And the best teams I’ve been a part of have run the gun offense.”
Doege was an assistant at Hillsboro when the Eagles went to the spread and made the playoffs for the first time in 50 years. Doege got a firm grasp of the offense as an assistant at Groesbeck under the tutelage of Corsicana offensive line coach Richey Cutrer, who was the Goats head coach at the time.
“Richey knew the offense better than anyone I’ve ever been around,” Doege said.
The Bulldogs transitioned into the spread midway through last season. Only Busby, the Bulldogs’ quarterback in their season opener, handed over the starting job to Brandon Campbell.
The move was two-fold. It gave Wortham a run-pass option at quarterback. And Busby was a needed asset at receiver.
Campbell and Busby as a quarterback-receiver tandem helped the Bulldogs get to the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Now Busby is back in as the starter with Campbell graduating.
It was tough losing the job, but it’s great having it back, Busby said.
“It was hard on me at first,” Busby said. “Once I realized what role they needed me to play I was fine with it. I liked receiver because of the touches I was getting. But I’d rather be at quarterback than receiver.”
Busby threw the ball well in Saturday’s scrimmage against Kerens. He didn’t throw any interceptions and the Bulldogs scored on their first drive. He completed passes to five different receivers. The spread offense is designed to spread the ball around.
“Some of the passes that weren’t complete, his footwork was perfect,” Doege said. “And his leadership has been great.”
Busby’s work during the summer has paid off. He went to a University of Texas passing camp, where he was able to get one-on-one time with Longhorn coaches, including offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.
“It really helped me with my footwork and vision,” Busby said. “It taught me how to read defenses.”
Doege has seen improvement in his receivers. One of them, 6-0, 170-pound senior Kenneth Freeman, didn’t play football last season, but is back in the program. He had a tremendous 7-on-7 season, gaining confidence against bigger schools Corsicana and Mexia.
“He’s a big asset we didn’t have last year,” Doege said. “He does a lot for us. Witty and him are close. He’s gained a lot of confidence in him.”
Busby said he’s confident in all of his teammates, and can see the offense helping the Bulldogs improve on last year’s 4-6 record.
“Our line has gotten better,” Busby said. “They’re able to pick up blocks and see where the pressure is going from. Our receivers know the offense better and our running backs are doing very well with their cutbacks. This has been great.”