DeKALB – Griffin McNeal remembers teams constantly stacking the box against Genoa-Kingston last season.
The Cogs run the Wing T and teams often bring an extra defender toward the line of scrimmage, but this year, McNeal feels G-K is versatile enough to where they won’t have to worry about seeing eight or nine guys in the box.
Throughout the Cogs’ three 7-on-7 competitions this year – G-K competed at DeKalb on Monday – McNeal and G-K coach Travis Frederick have seen the Cogs’ versatility in action, with players like McNeal, who started two games at quarterback last season, RB/WR Jesse Zade and senior running back Sal Lopez to name a few.
One reason G-K has more skill-position players is because the Cogs’ roster numbers are up. Two years ago, Frederick said he had just 17 players in his first season as the team’s coach. Last year it was around 20.
This year, he hopes to have 35 varsity players, at the very least 30.
“It’s not like we’ve got elite speed by any means,” Frederick said. “We’re just faster because we haven’t had a lot of skill kids.
“... When you get more bodies that can do things like play receiver or running back, it makes you play more flexible. We get into these 7-on-7s, we’re able to see kids doing different things. We’re just trying to find our new identity in a way. Now at times, [opponents] will have to loosen up on us a little bit.”
As a quarterback, McNeal wants to work on things like timing and footwork when he goes to a 7-on-7.
This season, McNeal expects the Cogs’ passing game to work out better with more of an influx of players at the skill spots.
“We were criticized last year, being one-dimensional. Teams would even at times have eight, nine guys in the box,” McNeal said. “Teams won’t be able to do that this year. We can be more two-dimensional this year and be able to throw the ball a lot more.”
In the Big Northern East, where G-K has the third-smallest enrollment (621), the numbers alone certainly provide a boost. Frederick would always like to see more bodies at 7-on-7s, but McNeal has noticed a bump up from last summer.
“Last year, I know I always had to come up and play with them because they had nine, 10 guys there, even less than that sometimes,” said McNeal, who started with the sophomore team last year before moving up to the varsity. “We’re more involved this year, I think that’s going to help us out a lot.”