McDonald rolls on after offensive change
CHAMPION — The Wing-T offense has been synonymous with the McDonald football program over the years.
Back when Dan Williams was a player, the Blue Devils ran a Wing-T offense, and he continued to deploy that system when he took over the program 19 years ago.
Thus it was a big change when the coaching staff elected to ditch the tried-and-true Wing-T for a more modern spread offense.
Three games into the experiment, Williams and the Blue Devils can’t complain. Following a 56-7 win at Champion, McDonald (3-0) is averaging 48.7 points per game — 16 points better against the same three opponents (Brookfield, Columbiana and Champion) as last year.
“It took some time to get used to,” Williams said. “I’ve been doing this for 20, 25 years of the same offense, and when you make a change, it’s different. But it’s something that I’ve become accustomed to, and it’s coming easy to us now.
“We’re scoring a lot of points, and that’s the most important thing.”
Friday’s game showed just how potent this McDonald spread could be.
The Blue Devils scored touchdowns on all drives except the last one (when they kneeled to end the game), and not a single drive lasted longer than six plays. They also completed a five-play, 84-yard drive in the first quarter in just 1:09.
McDonald added four runs of more than 50 yards against the Golden Flashes (0-3), and the offense averaged 16.4 yards per attempt on the ground.
“We’ve gotten more comfortable over the past three weeks, and I think tonight, we showed how we adapted to (the spread offense),” said senior running back Alex Cintron, who posted touchdowns of 63 and 61 yards.
The Blue Devils haven’t just been adjusting to the new offense, but also to a player in new positions. The two-headed monster of Cintron and fellow senior Josh Celli are still in the backfield, but instead of the two playing running back, Celli has moved under center.
The duo has proven to be a force on the ground, as Cintron amassed 199 yards and three scores on eight carries, and Celli added another 118 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts.
“(It’s) a little bit (different), but we expect the same thing from (Celli),” Cintron said. “So, it’s not too different besides where he’s playing. It seems pretty normal to the both of us.”
For his part, Celli admitted he’s had to improve on the passing game, something Williams said could take the team to new heights.
Similar to the team adjusting to the new system, Celli said it has a process at quarterback. And like the Blue Devils, he has shown signs of becoming more comfortable. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior went 5-of-7 passing for 102 yards and two scores — 41 and 45 yards — both to junior Cameron Tucker.
“It’s been a process,” Celli said. “Everyone’s been helping me out. The line, the old quarterback for our team has helped me out as well with confidence, telling me how to do stuff.”
Champion also is going through a process with first-year head coach Tim McGlynn.
The Golden Flashes have a young squad with just seven seniors, something that has been pointed out to McGlynn. He emphasized his mission early in the season was to get the young players some experience to grow.
“Our big thing is we’re treading water right now,” McGlynn said. “We’re just trying to keep getting better every day, and I really truly think that at midpoint — maybe Week 8 — it’s going to click and I think we’re going to come on.”
While McDonald has enjoyed a fast start under the new offense, the Blue Devils aren’t getting too ahead of themselves, especially with the likes of Springfield and Wester Reserve still ahead on the schedule.
“We’re pretty confident, but we know we’ve got a lot of good teams that we have to face,” Celli said. “We have a lot of work to do.”