Football team takes on new changes

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By Devon Rocke, Staff Reporter

Fall is in the air, colored leaves are beginning to fall from the trees, and this year’s seasonal winds of change brings a new and improved season for the football team with them. 

During this past off-season, coaches looked for new ways to revamp their offensive and defensive strategies. In previous years, the team played pro-style, an offensive scheme with a balance of running and passing. This year, the team will focus on a more wide-open style of offense. 

“We (feel that) one of our biggest strengths (is) our overall team speed,” said Matthew Diamond, the coach of the team for the past two years. “So we wanted to try to implement an offense that can put (the players) into (open)  space and take advantage of their quickness.” 

Diamond’s new offense uses four or five receivers depending on the play, meaning that the quarterback has more options for throwing the ball. This puts more pressure on the opposing team’s defensive backs and linebackers, whose responsibility is to defend against the pass. Additionally, the team has changed to an RPO (read, pass, option) offense, consisting of reading the defensive end, keeping it or giving the ball off.

Varsity co-captain Scott Smith also sees signs of hope in the team’s performance.

“Our offensive line is now starting to click,” Smith said. “Once everything gets rolling, I think we’ll be pretty good.” 

 Changes will be made on the defensive side of the ball as well. The Pioneers are running a cover three or a cover two defense. In a cover two defense, the free safety, a player who is considered the last line of defense, and the strong safety, a player who stops runs and defends passes, guard the two deep zones of the defense. A cover three defense is when three defenders line up farthest from the ball, and the strong safety moves closer to the line to play a similar role to linebacker. To put more pressure on opponents in the red zone, the team also plays a man-to-man defense.

“Our goal on defense is to stand our ground and make them feel sorry for playing us,” said senior Chris Radina, middle linebacker on the team.

 By adapting to the players’ individual strengths, the Pioneers’ losing margins have significantly decreased and the team is working towards having a winning season similar to the one they had in 2014 when they went 7-4.  Although the football team has had its share of struggles in the past, Diamond expects “to continue to build each week and to be better than the day before.”