The offense hadn’t scored – in fact, it gave up seven points. The defense was sharp, but on the whole something needed to change.
After some halftime adjustments, mostly to the blocking schemes, the DeKalb football team managed to turn a 10-point deficit into a 15-point win against Vernon Hills in the 2013 opener.
This time, second-year head coach Matt Weckler is hoping to forgo the early struggles of the 25-10 win last year and cut straight to the victory.
The Barbs open the season at 7:30 p.m. tonight at home against Cougars, looking for their second straight win against Vernon Hills – which went 3-6 last year.
“That was one of the things we didn’t do well last year,” Weckler said. “Our blocking scheme was a little skewed. Second half we did a much better job. So this year we just want to start off blocking the correct guys from the beginning.”
Weckler said the defense played well last year, and this year’s unit – led by senior Jake Kuykendall, who Weckler called the glue holding the defense together – will have to perform just as well tonight for the win.
“Our defense played well the whole game,” Weckler said. “We only gave up three points – our offense gave up a turnover for a touchdown. For us to be successful they have to do that again.”
The offense will be powered by Weckler’s triple-option pistol offense, which the Barbs now have a full year of experience running it, going 5-5 last season with its first playoff berth since 2010. Illinois recruit and senior running back Dre Brown is a big chunk of that offense, but it won’t be all him. Weckler said junior Tony Tate has come on strong late in camp at running back.
At quarterback, Weckler said both sophomore Derek Kyler and junior Ethan Conroy will see playing time, with Kyler starting.
“There have been times where one has taken the lead and then the other has taken the lead,” Weckler said. “We consider one the starter and one the 1A starter. In normal years either one of them could have started any game.”
He said he hopes one of the two steps up and takes control of the offense, but having two quarterbacks in his system isn’t a bad thing.
“But these days you need two anyways with the type of offense we run, with the quarterbacks running the ball so much,” Weckler said. “It’s very important for us to have two quarterbacks in case something happens and one gets dinged up.”
Weckler said the Barbs are healthy, although outside linebacker Tony Ramos has an ankle sprain and is likely to be held out.