Dublin Coffman: Balanced attack key to Shamrocks' offensive success
Offensive balance has helped the Dublin Coffman football team roll over opponents this season.
Before playing Hilliard Bradley on Oct. 2, the Shamrocks were 5-0 overall, ranked second behind Pickerington Central in the Division I state poll and had clinched at least a share of a second consecutive OCC-Central Division title.
The success has come from the right arm and legs of senior quarterback Connor Mathews and the fleet power running of senior running back Bryon Threats. The balance they bring has stymied opposing defenses.
Through five games, Coffman had totaled 2,004 yards with 1,091 coming on the ground and 913 through the air and was averaging 33.2 points a game.
“In the past, the perception was that we would throw it around and it was an air-raid offense, but that was never the case,” coach Mark Crabtree said. “That’s what a lot of people thought because a lot of big plays would come from the air, but really we were 60-40 pass even then.
“People always think of the big plays and touchdowns, but the last couple years we didn’t throw as much but our passing game evolved. A lot of the same things that we have done for 20 years are still there, but we have become a better running team.”
Threats lives up to his name with his ability to score every time he touches the ball. The 5-foot-11, 202-pounder had rushed for 496 yards and nine touchdowns on 67 carries through five games. He also caught 14 passes for 261 yards and three scores.
Last fall, Threats was third-team all-state, first-team all-district and league Offensive Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,125 yards and 16 touchdowns on 123 carries and caught 10 passes for 270 yards and three scores.
“Bryon’s so unique in his passion for the game,” Crabtree said. “He’s a defensive-minded individual on offense. When he runs, he looks to be the one doing the hitting. You also could make a highlight reel of his blocks.”
Mathews had completed 47 of 64 passes for 716 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions before playing Bradley. He also added 300 rushing yards and two scores on 55 carries.
“Coach (Crabtree) trusts me to execute and do my job,” Mathews said. “I think confidence is the biggest difference (from last year as a first-year starter).
“Coach told me that if I was scared, I would play scared and I had to practice like I was going to play. You have to be confident in practice and be selfless.”
Crabtree said Mathews and Threats are more concerned with wins than individual statistics.
“Conner has become a very good runner and likes running the football,” he said. “Those guys have complemented each other, and that’s the way we like it. They are unselfish. They aren’t overly concerned with statistics, but they are team-first.”
Threats said the success comes from the Shamrocks banding together and having trust that all 11 players will do their jobs.
“I think the relationship and the trust we have in each other that has made us a really successful offensively,” said the University of Cincinnati recruit. “It feels great to be coming back with a lot of the players we had from last season.
"We have the same quarterback in Connor; (senior offensive tackle) Daniel (Warnsman) is back to lead the line. It’s really a lot of fun. These guys are my brothers, and it’s all about trust on every play.”
Warnsman, an Eastern Michigan recruit, is anchoring the line for a second consecutive season.
“I love blocking for these guys because they run as hard as they can on every play, and they are always finishing,” he said. “They definitely make my job easier. I love getting physical on every play and getting after whoever is across from me.”
The wide receiving corps also has stood out.
Seniors Sheron Phipps had 21 receptions for 314 yards and two touchdowns and Hunter Hicks had 11 catches for 133 yards and one score. Juniors Trey Hedderly had 10 catches for 126 yards and one touchdown, and Alex Diehl caught nine passes for 79 yards.
“I feel like I have improved a lot because of a lot of the work that me and a lot of the guys have done in the offseason,” said Mathews, who has not decided on a college. “Bryon being one of them, Sheron and all of our receivers – Alex Diehl, Trey Hedderley, Hunter Hicks – and Mason Maggs, our backup quarterback. We get after it together, and we’re all on each other to try to make each other better.”
Coffman reached the Division I, Region 2 final in each of its last two seasons, losing to Olentangy Liberty 21-7 in 2018 and Springfield 7-3 last fall. This season, they are the top seed in Region 2 and open Friday, Oct. 9, at home against 16th-seeded Beavercreek.
“You can never get complacent,” Threats said. “I felt like we were there (peaking) last season, and we got too comfortable.
"We’re No. 2 (in Division I), but we still have a lot of work to do. I really don’t worry so much about the rankings. Let’s see what the rankings are like at the end of the year.”