The Glenwood football team experienced an era of success under former coach Jason Allen. The hope is that Tripp Henderson can keep things headed in a positive direction.
While the team had a lot to learn and a short time to learn it in, Henderson said he’s been impressed with the team’s ability to grasp all the new concepts. Still, it isn’t close to where it needs to be, he said.
“We’re ahead of where I thought we’d be,” he said. “We’re not where I want to be, but just ahead of where I thought we’d be.”
The reason for the limited expectations was the vast difference in the schemes the team will run this year. Henderson’s spread offense implements a much faster pace that the Gators hadn’t been used to prior to this season. Asked about what was different this year, senior Dylan Denny used the words “faster paced” on four different occasions, noting the importance of understanding the scheme to be able to run it as quickly as possible in a game.
“You want to keep the defense off balance,” he said. “It tires them out.”
The team hasn’t quite reached the point where Henderson feels like they can run both sides of the ball fluidly, but he does like the upside and sees a bright future for the program.
Denny is the main force on offense. Occupying the slot, he will be relied on to take carries on speed sweeps and catch the ball, using his athleticism to pick up chunks of yardage. Henderson called Denny a gifted athlete, expressing only one regret.
“I wish he wasn’t a senior,” he said with a laugh.
The Gators will be led at quarterback by junior Lawson Humphries, who lacks height but is very athletic. Henderson said he could run, which will give the Gators another option when necessary.
Sophomore Undriel Copeland will play running back, while Mikey Starke, Michael Hasson and Tyler Cadenhead will occupy the receiver spots.
The offensive line has perhaps the hardest job learning the new offense. Henderson said they are starting to grasp the concepts, but there is a lot to learn.
“Everyone up there will be back next year, so that tells you they’re young,” Henderson said. “They’ve got the toughest job out there, and I ask a lot of them. They’ve got a lot to learn, but they’re learning.”
That unit will be comprised of tackles Jackson Oates and Noah Kirkland, guards Jake Anderson and Will Cadoura and center Austin Kent. Denny said he thought once everything falls into place, the offense has a lot of potential.
“I think we can improve on last year,” he said. “Once everyone gets it, it can really wear a defense out.”
The defense will be comprised almost entirely of players that also play on offense. Kirkland will play defensive tackle along with Cadoura, and Oates will team with Isaiah Hall at defensive end.
Cadenhead, Copeland, Anthony Davis and Logan Lake will fill the linebacker spots, while Denny, Isaiah Betties and Starke will play in the secondary.
“There’s going to be a lot of tired players on both sides,” Henderson said. “We’re going to have to run a lot on defense.”
The unit lacks size, except at defensive tackle, so Henderson said the team will have to compensate in its speed to the ball. It will be predominantly a 4-4 scheme, stacking more in the box and relying on good athletes in the secondary.
Henderson again singled out Denny, saying he would have to be a major contributor on both sides.
Kirkland said the team is understanding the new scheme fairly well and is just ready to get up to game speed.
“We’re getting it pretty good, I think,” he said. “We’re just ready to play someone and see where we are.”
The team still has a lot to learn, simply put. As the phrase goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, too, will it take time to build Glenwood in the image of its new leader Henderson.
With that said, Henderson sees a lot of potential in the program, and they plan on being competitive every time they touch the field this season. Playoffs are an expectation, as always.
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but the coach said his team will learn to compete as the season goes along and should be very solid when it’s all said and done.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.