ADA – Ada had no problem scoring points last year. The offense averaged 29.9 points a game.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the defense had problems stopping teams giving up an average of 53.7 points a game.
Head coach Shawn Christopher looks to turn that around and produce wins.
Christopher hired a new defensive coordinator Adam Baumgartner.
“I have let him have the reins of the defense and he has run with it and the kids have embraced it,” Christopher said. “He has a little different mentality for things and different schemes with things. He wants offenses to adjust to what we do defensively as opposed to us preparing for them.”
Wins have been hard to come by for Ada. The last two seasons the Bulldogs have posted identical 2-8 marks but Christopher says this year’s personnel can turn things around. Ada has 27 players on the roster and 11 returning letterwinners.
“Last couple years we have struggled with injuries…I don’t want to use it as an excuse but we have a had a lot of guys dinged up,” Christopher said. “This group that we have right now is a very tough group both mentally and physically. I have seen leadership and a positive attitude with this group that I haven’t seen not just in the last two years but the last five or six.”
The numbers have been decreasing at Ada but Christopher said he doesn’t mind as long as the guys are all in.
“One of the greatest thing I’ve seen out of leadership is they are coaching each other up and that is a positive,” Christopher said.
Highlighting the Bulldogs roster is quarterback Brandon Hull. The senior signal caller is a dual threat after leading the NWC in passing yards with 2,262 and rushing for 1,006 yards. He combined for 35 touchdowns.
Hull can make things happen but he will have to break in a whole new receiving group. The Bulldogs do not return a single receiver back from last year.
“Brandon Hull is a special athlete,” Christopher said. “He’s a game breaker and a guy that is exciting and as exciting as any player around. Even if we make a poor play call there is a chance he is going to take it to the house. He is a special guy.”
But that does not mean has Hull does not have plenty of help on the offensive side of the ball starting with his brother, Keegan Hull, who returns in the backfield.
The entire offensive line is back. In addition to experience it boasts some size. Back are Carter Nelson (6-4, 310 lbs.), Brandon Paul (5-10, 250 lbs.), Gage Hoffer (6-2, 280 lbs.), Lester Amos (6-3, 255 lbs.) and Devon Cole (6-1, 270 lbs.)
As for the receivers, Christopher said he feels comfortable with the six or seven guys that are going to see playing time and Hull a great target. Looking to shine will be junior Cayden Murphy who Christopher added has all the tools to have a breakout year.
With the small numbers a lot of these guys will see time on the defensive side of the ball. And with Baumgartner taking over Christopher described the defense as being a lot more “exotic.”
“There will be times where we will be extremely aggressive and there will be times where we don’t look like we are being aggressive but if you pay close attention we will be trying to give people fits,” Christopher said. “I have some beef up front.”
Because Ada has traditionally been a spread offense the loss of seven on seven competition and a new receiving corps to break in the Bulldogs is something that puts them behind a little. Christopher adds the first three games, where the NWC plays in a pool style situation, are extremely crucial in getting off to a good start and evaulation.
“I don’t know what I have back yet,” Christopher said. “I’ve been pleased with our scout guys in practice. They have busted their tails in practice and have given us some look…so we do get a decent look.”
But with the experience the team brings back, Christopher remains confident.
“I think we are going to score points and we have the same core back,” Christopher said. “Defensively is the key to the whole season and keep people down and not let them get the big play and not let them grind it out We gave up big play after big play last year and we can’t let that happen. That is why I switched to a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive setup and scheme.”