ELIDA – An up-tempo offense is designed to catch teams off-guard.
This season, Elida is hoping to reel off plays at such a fast clip that opponents won’t be able to keep up.
When Bill Speller took over the reins last season as the Elida head coach, his goal was to speed up a no-huddle offense which traditionally ran the football a great deal.
The result was an offense that produced 2,376 passing yards, along with 952 rushing yards.
“It took a little while to get used to,” Speller said. “They were a no-huddle team before (Speller took over), but they took some time between plays to get different signals in and different formations. We want to go as fast as we can. We want to practice that way as well.
“Last year, it took them a little time to transition. We went from more of a running team to a very heavy passing team. So, it took about half the year before they were able to grasp that, and to get the feel for it. But once they did, it started to click.”
Elida is coming off a 6-4 overall record (5-4 in Western Buckeye League).
Leading Elida’s up-tempo spread offense is senior quarterback Isaac McAdams (6-foot-3, 200), who completed 165 of 268 passes for 2,298 yards (second in WBL) with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2016. McAdams also rushed for 357 yards and three TDs.
“He had a really good second half of the season last year,” Speller said about McAdams. “His numbers really started to balloon when he realized the potential was there. He’s pretty excited. He has some colleges talking to him. So, he’s really excited about his senior year. We think he can do some good things.”
Last season, Cole Harmon led the Elida rushing attack with 500 yards on 106 carries (4.7 yards per carry) with eight TDs.
However, this season, Harmon (5-10, 170, Sr.) should be getting most of his touches through the air.
“Cole is going to move out to a slot receiver,” Speller said. “That fits him a little bit better for his future as well. He’s gotten a couple college offers already, and they’re looking at him as a slot receiver. It fits his body type. He’s not a real big kid, but he’s a strong kid. And he’s really developed his route running.”
Harmon is excited about his new role.
“I’m looking forward to it (moving to slot), because last year I kind of proved that I can run the football. So, I’m really looking forward to catching the ball,” Harmon said.
Harmon feels that the up-tempo style of play fits the makeup of this year’s team.
“I like it because other teams struggle keeping up with it. I think we’re more in shape, because we do it every day in practice, running 60-70 plays every day,” he said.
The biggest challenge on the offensive side of the football is rebuilding the offensive line. However, Speller feels there are plenty of viable replacements waiting in the wings.
“We lost some guys on the offensive line, but we are returning quite bit of size from the guys who were down below them (the starters),” Speller said. “So, we’re pretty excited about the size that is coming back.
“Mike Purdy (6-4, 255, Sr.) is the one returner. He’s going to return at left tackle. Dan Tullis (5-10, 255, Sr.) is probably going to play right tackle. Seth Bailey (6-7, 315, Sr.) played quite a bit for us last year. He’ll be playing at one of our guard positions. My son Jordan (Speller, 6-5, 295, So.), is probably going to be our center. Jordan has gotten a lot bigger this year. Then Donnie Gipson (5-11, 310, Sr.) or Dede Simpson (5-10, 235, Sr.) will probably play one of those guard positions.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs will have some challenges. Opponents scored 23 points per game against Elida last season.
“I think the biggest thing, defensively, is we lost some linebackers,” Speller said. “We lost all three linebackers from last year. Those are big spots for us to replace. That’s been the biggest competition so far. There’s been about seven or eight guys battling for it.”
The defensive line should be solid for the Bulldogs. Tullis, a two-time first team all-WBL selection returns. Last season, Tullis recorded 64 tackles, 5.5 for a loss. Tullis led the team with 6.5 sacks. Purdy, an all-WBL selection, returns to the defensive line. In 2016, Purdy had 42 tackles with six sacks.
Elida is hoping to take it to the next level this fall.
“We haven’t made the playoffs during my career,” Harmon said. “So, I would like to make the playoffs. I also want to win the league.”