There won’t be any duck calls, no Quack Attack, and you can bet you won’t be seeing anybody wearing neon uniforms.
But they’re tweaking the offense at Kerens this season, bringing in some of the ideas they run at the University of Oregon, where the Ducks have lived on a high-speed attack and flown into the national spotlight in recent years with one of the most dangerous offenses in college football.
The offense may be new, but everything else has that fit-just-right feeling of being around for a while at Kerens, where 14 starters return in one of the best welcome back parties in this part of the state.
And they have a brand new offense and defense to celebrate their return.
“We’re going to take some of the principles of the Oregon offense, a little more two-back and inside zone,’’ Kerens coach Russell Anderson said. “It makes it so we don’t have to be as much of a power blocking team. It’s more athlete on athlete.’’
Anderson likes the idea of getting his team’s speed in the open space, which is what the Oregon offense is designed to do. He made a visit to Lorena last spring to talk to coach Lorena High football coach Ray Biles about it. Lorena has been running Oregon’s offense for the past few years.
“We’re friends from the FCA Bowl,’’ Anderson said of Biles. “They run it, and they go to Oregon every year. So I went to visit him in the spring, and we sat down and had a little coaches get together.’’
Anderson knows it’s a good fit for his kids. Just don’t look for any neon jerseys.
“We’ll be wearing Kelly Green,’’ Anderson said. “Neon might get a guy fired. They like Kelly Green in Kerens.’’
And the love their football team.
The town, the kids and the coaches are excited about the upcoming season. Why not? Kerens is bringing back a truckload of starters, and has more experience than just about any team in the Golden Circle.
Five seniors were starters two years ago as sophomores and two juniors were starters on the 2011 team as freshmen, including quarterback Nate Betts, who was a first-team All-Golden Circle player last year. Betts ran for 1,288 yards and threw for 1,022 yards and combined for 23 touchdowns. Those numbers could go up.
Anderson knows his kids care about winning, and it won’t matter if they run out of an offense that has duck feathers or not.
“They don’t have any idea about that,’’ he said of his kids knowing about Oregon. “They’re like all 16- and 17-year-old kids. They play video games, and watch it playing video games. They don’t know what Oregon runs.’’
Betts said he had never seen Oregon play, but he’s pumped about the new offense — and excited about the new season.
“I like it,’’ he said of the new wrinkles in the offense. “I like the read game. It opens up a lot of passing opportunities.’’
He has no doubt Kerens is better — but he bases his opinion on the players who are coming back more than the new offense.
“I think we’re better than last year,’’ Betts said. “Because the people we had from last year will step up, because of the experience we have coming back from last year.’’
The Bobcats bring back eight starters on defense and six on offense, and Anderson feels his team not only has more experience than in recent seasons but more depth. He’s expecting another big year from Betts, who fits the new offense because he is smart and knows how to take advantage of what Kerens will be running this season.
“He’s 6-2, 175 and he’s got good speed,’’ Anderson said. “And he has an exceptional football I.Q. You have to be able to read defenses.’’
Betts will have a lot of talent to throw the ball to this season with the return of senior Brett Anderson, a first-team All-Golden Circle receiver who had 38 receptions for 707 yards and eight touchdowns, and Shelton Sayles, a senior with good hands and good speed.
Anderson is also expecting a big season from tailback Rayvon Faulk, who rushed for 719 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
“We really feel like Rayvon will have a breakout year. The last couple of years he’s had some nagging injuries, and it’s his senior year this year,’’ Anderson said.
There’s plenty up front. William Pugh is the only returning starter on the offensive line, but three defensive linemen — Hunter Green, Bryer Duke and Mason Glasgow — move into the OL and Daedion Tolliver moves over from tight end. Green (6-3, 240) and Duke (5-9, 210), a pair of growing sophomores, make up the right side, and Pugh (6-2, 210) and Tolliver (6-4, 225) make up the left. Glasgow (5-10, 155) will bring quickness at the center position.
“They are all athletic with good size. This is probably is as good in size as we’ve had since I’ve been here,’’ said Anderson, who is in his seventh season at Kerens.
Anderson is changing from a 3-4 defense to a 4-2-5, and he’s got Betts, Sayles and Zack Duncan returning in the secondary as well as Tolliver and Kevin Askey at linebackers. Green, Duke and Tavion Hall are all back on the defensive line, and the addition Aaron Foxworth, a 6-1, 220-pound senior who moved in from Cayuga, should beef up the DL as well.
“We think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good,’’ said Anderson, whose team lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. “Every year we feel good at Kerens, and this year we feel like we can be a lot better because we have eight starters back on defense and six back on offense. That’s why we’re excited.’’