Stallions eye playoffs with new offense
Since well before Ryan Wiggins took over as coach in 2007, running a form of the triple-option offense has seemed to be as much a part of the DeSales High School football tradition as has been its propensity to make the playoffs
The Stallions missed the postseason for the first time since 1993 a year ago but isn't planning to let that happen again.
The offense that has been a part of DeSales' identity is changing, too.
Now calling the plays and serving as the quarterbacks coach is Tom Kaczkowski, who helped develop the pistol offense while he was the head coach at Ohio Northern University in 1999.
Under Kaczkowski, who coached at the northwest Ohio college from 1986-2002 and now lives in central Ohio, the Stallions are expected to show a mix of the option and the pistol.
Junior Brandon Krietemeyer (5-foot-8, 155 pounds), who sat out last season after transferring from Thomas Worthington, is expected to be the quarterback.
The offense will be on display in the regular season for the first time Friday, Aug. 30, when the Stallions open at Westerville Central.
"We're doing some different things scheme-wise," said Wiggins, who is 53-21 in six seasons at DeSales. "We're running out of the pistol and trying to use our skill players. The option is sort of a robotic offense and you can't always dictate who is going to get the ball. It's been fun."
Surrounding Krietemeyer in the hybrid offense is a trio of players who gained significant experience last season in seniors Griff Saunders (6-2, 215), Tucker Yinger (5-10, 170) and Sayyid Kanu (5-11, 180).
Saunders verbally committed to Bowling Green in mid-June and will serve as the H-back and tight end. Kanu rushed for 141 yards and Yinger ran for 120 yards as complementary running backs a year ago to 2013 graduate J.T. Blubaugh, who rushed for 895 yards and 10 touchdowns and is now playing lacrosse at Ohio State.
Also lost to graduation was quarterback Alex Perrine, who was 48-for-81 passing for 739 yards with eight touchdowns and rushed for 560 yards.
Senior Emmanuel Mawutor (5-11, 210) and juniors Patrick Hoffman (5-9, 170) and Josh DeLozier (5-9, 170) are others at running back. Seniors Matt Negron (5-11, 170) and Andrew Sparks (5-10, 165) and juniors Luke Melsop (6-3, 200) and Michael Wade (6-1, 160) are looking to contribute as receivers.
Junior Nick O'Brien (6-1, 275) returns at center. Seniors Bryan Stopar (6-1, 215), Myron Goldsmith (6-2, 220) and Domenic Skunda (5-10, 220) and junior Brian Dytko (5-10, 230) are others on the line.
"I'm really excited about (the offense)," Yinger said. "I've been kind of like a speed fullback in it. It's quite a bit different than the triple option. This offense is about waiting for things to open up and just reading the defense."
DeSales gave up an average of 22.6 points a year ago while going 5-5 overall and 1-1 in the CCL-Silver Division. The Stallions lost a pair of triple-overtime games -- to Gahanna 13-10 and to Watterson 24-21 -- and ended up ninth in Division III, Region 10.
DeSales is now in Division III, Region 9 after the OHSAA's expansion to seven divisions.
Looking to help the Stallions improve defensively are returnees Kanu (DB), Mawutor (LB), Saunders (LB), Skunda (DL/LB), Stopar (DL) and Yinger (DB).
Melsop (LB), DeLozier (DB), Wade (DB) and junior Drew Selegue (DL) also are looking to contribute defensively.
DeSales lost first-team all-district linebacker Oliver Grimard, special mention all-district defensive lineman Chris Ritter and honorable mention all-district defensive lineman Michael Hippler to graduation.
Junior Adam Acquista is back at kicker after making five of six field goals and going 14 of 15 in extra points. Junior punter Charlie Stack averaged 35.1 yards and also returns.
Junior Justin Borghese (6-1, 160) should lead the return team, and Saunders is the long snapper.
DeSales has a bye in between CCL-Silver games Oct. 4 at St. Charles and Oct. 18 against visiting Watterson.
Westerville Central is one of five teams on the schedule that the Stallions didn't play last season. Another of the newcomers is defending Division IV state champion Clarksville Clinton-Massie (Sept. 27 at home).
Clinton-Massie defeated St. Clairsville 46-36 in the championship game to finish 15-0.
"Not making the playoffs last year just shows that nothing is guaranteed just because we've got a DeSales jersey," Kanu said. "We've got to work hard each week. We know our potential."