High School Sports

Columbus High football preview: Anthony Padron takes on bigger role as Blue Devils shift to spread offense

Columbus is opening up its offensive options with a switch to the spread formation this year, and the change came at the perfect time for a senior receiver looking to make a major impact.

“It’s great because this year I’m just trying to prove myself and help teach everyone else,” Anthony Padron said. “I really want to go out with a better season this year.”

That’s exactly what Columbus coach Phil Marino hoped to hear from one of two returning offensive starters on a team in its first year in transition from the run-heavy I-formation to a pass-happy spread attack.

“In this offense, I think he will catch twice as many balls as last year; no doubt about it,” Marino said. “He is a very good possession receiver, he runs good routes, and he is going to catch the ball 98 percent of the time you throw it to him, so we are going to throw it at him a lot.”

Padron’s statistics were somewhat muted by Columbus’ offense in 2010, when he finished the season with 37 catches for 311 yards and a touchdown. But the 6-foot-3, 185-pound receiver is expecting more opportunities this year.

Padron, who also plays baseball and basketball, has been instrumental in aiding his teammates in learning new formations, and his familiarity with the game and experience also led Marino to name him the backup quarterback. And with offensive lineman Tedric Palmer the only full-time offensive starter back from 2010, Marino said he will need all the help and production he can get from Padron.

“He has been very helpful with the young kids in our offense, helping them with their routes and helping then when they need to get open and understand how important it is to move the football,” Marino said. “And if we are going to throw it around 35 times a game, we better have some guys like him who can catch it.”

The spread is centered around sophomore quarterback Wyatt Peterson -- last year’s starter, Ryan Lang, has been moved to defensive back because “he was just too good an athlete not to have there,” Marino said -- and with Padron and junior receiver Tony Alexander expected to see the majority of the passes.

“We are going to be throwing the ball a lot, and we are going to prove we can be a fast-paced offense,” Padron said “We are just going to push it nonstop and tire the defenses out.”

As the Blue Devils prepare for Thursday’s scrimmage at Pacelli, the switch has gone off with few snags. The athletes, as young and inexperienced as many are, picked up the spread quickly, and Marion said he expects that to translate to a more explosive offense when compared to what Columbus has done in the previous three seasons as it went 5-25 and scored 373 points, or an average of 12.4 per game.

“We are really hoping to do some things this year offensively we haven’t been able to do,” Marino said. We want to make it more exciting and see if we can score some more points, and guys like Anthony are going to be a big part of us being able to do that.”

Chris White, 706-571-8571; follow Chris online at twitter.com/le_chriswhite and at facebook.com/lechriswhite.

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