The “Spread Pistol” offense Middletown South and so many other teams now run looks complicated.
Kyle Brey, Middletown South’s senior quarterback, has a different opinion.
“Actually, I think it’s kind of easy,” Brey said. “It’s easier than running the triple option.”
Middletown South’s coaching staff made the full-fledged commitment to the up-tempo “Spread Pistol” before last season after more than a decade of running the triple option out of the flexbone. The offensive production, especially in the NJSIAA playoffs, was impressive.
The Eagles put up 40 points in a first-round playoff romp over West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 45 points and 587 yards of offense in a 45-35 win over Colts Neck in a sectional semifinal and 28 points and almost 300 yards of offense in a 35-28 loss to Sayreville in the Central Group IV championship game.
Brey threw for 302 yards and four TDs against Colts Neck and 223 yards and two scores, including an impressive 99-yard drive in 1:33 late in the sectional final.
“He went from a guy who threw three picks in his first game to throwing three picks the rest of the year,” said Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci of Brey’s interceptions. “He really started to grasp what we were doing. He became the guy going into every game that we really had confidence would run the offense effectively.”
Brey will probably be relied on even more this season. The Eagles graduated most of the production at running back in 1,000-yard plus rusher Jake Ripnick and Eli Smith, who ran for 240 yards against Colts Neck. They also lost wide receiver Anthony Cittarella to graduation and have just two starters returning on the offensive line.
Brey having a year of experience under his belt could bode nothing but trouble for opposing defenses.
“I feel I’m more of a leader this year. It’s my job to do that, also,” Brey said. “I feel I can run the offense much better this year. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable.”
“We expect a lot. He has full understanding of the offense,” Antonucci said. “He knows what’s expected of him and what we’re looking for from his position. I think he’s more comfortable and has a better idea of pre-snap reads and decisions he has to make on the fly.”
At the end of last season, Middletown South became a big-play team on offense.
That aspect could be missing in the running game even though senior Jeremy Concepcion and sophomore Cole Rogers should form a solid tandem.
Andrew Wisialko, 6-foot-3 junior Pat Crowe, who is capable of causing mismatches, and senior tight end/fullback Tayler Hendrickson, who has made a commitment to the University of Pennsylvania and has started since he was a freshman, will give Brey options in the passing game. Hendrickson will also provide excellent blocking.
Returnees Jim Wilson and John Low at left guard and right tackle respectively lead the offensive line.
The experiences of last season should help Middletown South defensively. Antonucci said the Eagles started six sophomores and a freshman in the Central IV championship game.
Hendrickson and senior Connor Spreen return at the tackle slots. Dylan Rogers, who played in five games last year as a freshman returns inside linebacker. Wisialko returns at cornerback and Cole Rogers, who played some last year, will be the other cornerback and Drew O’Connell, who played some last year, is the safety.