Summer training camp concluded and Wetumpka football coach Tim Perry had no idea what to make of his offense.
The Indians were basically without an offensive identity. No one knew what to expect once the team ran onto the field in the season opener against Robert E. Lee. Would Wetumpka be more of a passing team or would it rely on an aggressive running game?
It was anyone’s guess?
“We were searching for an identity in the summer,” said Perry, a second-year coach. “I think every year your team is different and the abilities of the players are different. … We just want to play to our strengths to the best of our abilities.”
The long awaited answer became clearer than ever following last week’s 34-7 victory. Behind the one-two punch of Charlie Crenshaw and O.J. Jackson, Wetumpka dominated on the ground with close to 300 yards rushing in a performance fans only saw flashes of a season ago.
Crenshaw and Jackson combined to rush for 241 yards and three touchdowns. Both senior tailbacks registered over 100 yards to provide an identity for a program that’s looking to bounce back after enduring an uncharacteristic 4-6 record in 2012.
“Our offensive line did a great job of getting off the ball,” said Perry, whose team travels to Oak Mountain on Friday. “Our two running backs do a great job running behind their pads and getting north and south. We feel like right now that our running game is a little bit ahead of our passing game.”
Having the luxury of two quality running backs offers Wetumpka multiple offensive options.
Jackson is the more traditional, downhill runner, while Crenshaw’s ability to catch and run out of the backfield keeps defenses honest with their approach of potentially placing an extra defender in the box.
“With both of us on the field at the same time, defenses have to be very careful about bringing down another defender,” said Crenshaw, who racked up 1,694 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns last fall. “If we can perform like that every game, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
While Crenshaw and Jackson may have gotten the headlines, however, a large portion of their performance should be contributed to the school’s massive offensive line which features center Christian Williams, a 6-foot-1, 309-pound Georgia Southern commitment.
Williams viewed last week’s showing as a step in the right direction compared to a season ago.
“It was so frustrating last year,” the senior said. “We don’t have any type of identity; it got to a point where it wasn’t fun and we were not communicating with each other in the locker room after games. We spent more time together during the summer and it showed out on the field.
“It’s going to be hard to stop if we continue to run the ball like that.”
Perry said moving Williams from guard to center proved to be the right choice in fixing the team’s inability to run consistently. The 17-year-old lineman had served as the team’s backup center during his junior year before fully transitioning in the spring.
“You hate to move a young man who has so much success, but in our offense the center calls the fronts and protections and we needed somebody with game experience that could handle that difficult job,” Perry explained. “We felt that Christian had the maturity to handle those duties.”