Oak Grove’s I-formation offense is many things: physically imposing and diverse are good descriptive starting points.
It’s also balanced, something most at the high school level don’t aim for. That balance is not necessarily in Oak Grove’s DNA, either, but when the players capable of doing it present themselves, it’s a coach’s prerogative to capitalize on that potential.
“If you’ve got to the tools to do it, you use them. We use everything we got,” offensive lineman Chase Russell said.
Oak Grove coach Ryan Gregory added, “I think that’s having the kids on campus. (Quarterback) Jackson Wyly is a smooth operator back there, being able to do that with him makes us able to mix things up and keep defenses honest.”
That semblance of run-pass balance has been one of many caveats to the Oak Grove offense that has it in the 1A semifinals on the back of scoring 45 or more points in seven of its last nine games. Those two games in which the Tigers did not score 45 points? They weren’t that far off, scoring 39 points in a win over St. Frederick and 27 points in the second round against Block.
That balance and scoring output has a lot to do with Wyly’s play under center, especially impressive to Gregory given his lack of experience at the position before this season.
“This is his first year at quarterback; he’s played other positions and has some injuries. He’s really a special player to come in for one year and make an impact like this,” Gregory said.
Gregory has not been shy about putting the offense in Wyly’s hands, giving Wyly both ample opportunities at the helm of the triple option and a more complex passing scheme.
“He usually has two reads on every play. We ask a lot out of him to get his eyes on the reads and maybe progress his eyes down the field, too,” Gregory said. “Running the triple option, he’s got to make his reads in the run as well as in the pass, and he’s only been starting one year.”
Wyly is first to admit he gets a great deal of help in that passing game from the Tigers’ powerful running game that often garners most of their opponents’ attention.
“It’s playaction off the run,” Gregory said. “Everybody keys on Sam (Philley) so hard, we’re able to leak him out in the flat and throw the tight end behind him or get the wing out in the flat too, since everyone keys on Sam. We’ll run some double-move stuff with Kohl Milligan, who’s had some great catches here lately.”
Another attention grabber in the Oak Grove offense is the offensive line, both in size and skill. The Tiger offensive line have cleared the way for the big-play potential in the run game for backs like Philley and Jaylan Holt and, according to Russell, worked throughout the spring and summer to perfect that art of pass protection.
“They really have taken some steps the last few weeks,” Gregory said of the offensive line. “Getting up to the next level if we’re double-teaming and not staying on one guy, penalties, jumping offsides and just in execution, they’ve taken some steps in the right direction.”
The Oak Grove offense has a new challenge on its hands this week, going from a unit scoring points in bunches to helping its defense keep Kentwood from doing just that. The Kangaroos – led by four-star recruit Shyheim Carter, a multiuse offensive weapon with offers from several Southeastern Conference schools – have big-play potential that the Tigers plan on subduing as much as possible.
With that in mind, the Tiger offense will morph into a ball control unit, hoping to continue its current streak of turnover-free efficiency in its running game in a different way en route to an appearance in the state championship game.
Follow Brett on Twitter, @BHudsonTNS.