The Glendale Falcons are on the way to renaming their school “Wide Receiver High.”
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s no secret that wide receiver is one of the most coveted positions on a Glendale team in its third season of running a five-wide receiver, hurry up offense where receptions, yards and touchdowns are so bountiful it’s as if they came from a cornucopia of football statistics.
Glendale hosts rival Kickapoo (4-0) Thursday in the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors. Both teams are unbeaten and ranked in the state polls, but senior wide receiver Von Oeser is doing his best to keep a cool head.
“There’s always going to be hype, but I just try to ignore it and play my best game like I do every week,” Oeser said.
CBS Sports picked Glendale vs. Kickapoo as one of its MaxPreps Top 10 Games of the Week.
“The hype makes for an exciting game, fun to play,” senior wideout Jeremy Almeida said. “The amount of people and knowing how big this game is gets me excited.”
Oeser remembers when coach Mike Mauk first arrived at Glendale and explained his offensive, pass-heavy philosophy to the players.
“I had started out as a quarterback, so immediately my thoughts were, ‘I’m going to love this offense,’” Oeser said.
However, Oeser was a sophomore playing behind senior quarterback Alex Austin. The coaching staff moved Oeser to defense to play in the secondary. His offensive days weren’t done.
“The next year I ended up at receiver and I just fell in love with it,” Oeser said. “It wasn’t hard at all, it’s a very simple scheme and process. Just run your route as hard as you can and catch the ball, that’s all you’ve got to do.”
Oeser leads the Falcons in receptions with 32 and joins 2015 all-state award winner Luke Montgomery and Almeida in a trio of seniors who lead Glendale’s receiving corps in yardage and touchdowns.
Montgomery leads the team with 646 yards and six touchdowns on 28 receptions. As a junior, Montgomery set single-season state records for receptions (123) and receiving touchdowns (27). Almeida is next with 17 receptions for 317 yards and four touchdowns.
“I can’t even explain how fun it is when you catch the ball and run; that’s all I want to do,” Almeida said. “In middle school all we did was run the ball. When I found out we could throw, it was bread and butter. I’m a receiver, that’s all I wanted.”
Glendale went 2-8 in 2014, the first season with the offense, and put up 4,129 passing yards. Junior quarterback Alex Huston arrived in 2015 and passed for 5,608 yards, and Glendale’s win total jumped to five.
This season, Huston has 2,091 passing yards. Glendale is 4-0 and holds the No. 7 Class 5 ranking in the state. According to the website MaxPreps.com, Huston leads the nation in passing yards. The senior trio of wide receivers are more experienced in the concepts of the Glendale offense, and with more confidence in their scheme, Glendale’s scoring average climbed from 2015’s average of 48.72 to a four-game average of 52.5.
Oeser noted the improvement in Glendale’s crop of wide receivers.
“It’s off the charts. We’ve all grown so much as players individually, and just as a team, our camaraderie and our team bonding has really improved a lot,” Oeser said.
Some of the success, Mauk said, comes from the receivers working consistently on their coordination with Huston.
“They’re always working on that chemistry and trying to make sure they understand what the other one is doing. I think that when you work at something as hard as they work it, then you continue to get better at it,” Mauk said.
Due to the pedal-to-the-metal pace of Glendale’s offense, receivers are taught to read defenses on the fly.
“All of our routes are based on what the defense does, so we’re continually recognizing — or at least trying to recognize — where (defenders) are at and what they’re doing,” Mauk said. “You don’t try to do too much, you just try to be good at what you do.”