Last season, Erik Baker altered the offense Mohawk has used for the majority if the coach's tenure.
Usually, the Warriors would line up in a modified wing-T, focus on running the ball and try to pound opponents into submission.
Things were different last season, due mainly to the squad's dynamic senior quarterback, Drew Loose.
Baker opened up the offense - during a game against North Baltimore Loose threw for more than 200 yards in the first half - and the quarterback flourished.
The team, not so much. Mohawk finished the 2012 season with just three wins.
So the question was asked if Mohawk would chuck the new offense in favor of Baker's old favorite - the modified wing-T.
|2012: 3-7, 2-5 MAL.|
|Head coach: Erik Baker|
|Assistant coaches: Eric Daniel; Chris Clinger; Doug Pummell; Brett Wiedemann; Carl Daniel.|
|Sept. 6||at Wynford|
|Sept. 27||at North Baltimore|
|Oct. 4||at Hopewell-Loudon|
|Oct. 11||SENECA EAST|
|Oct. 25||at Calvert|
|Nov. 1||at St. Joe|
"A lot of [what we used last year] is carrying forward," Baker said. "Maybe not the same sets. With Drew, a lot of that worked when we were healthy outside, and the receivers ... we ended up going to the run first. But this year, starting out, we're really trying to continue that momentum."
Loose threw for 1,074 yards, fourth in the MAL. He also threw 10 touchdowns. He also ran for 745 yards.
"We don't have a quarterback who has that flat-out kind of distance," Baker said. "That's a once-in-a-couple-generations-type kid."
But Baker said he does like what he has in this year's starting quarterback, senior Grant Gucker, a 5-11, 190-pounder.
"Grant Gucker has won the quarterback job through the summer," he said. "Totally different kind of kid [than Loose]. He's more of a thrower and a fullback when he runs. He's a tank more than a sprinter like Drew was."
Baker said he expects junior Gunnar Johnson to play a big role in the backfield, but hinted he also could be used at the QB spot. Then there's Juston Morter, a sophomore who Baker said has a big future.
"[He] has as big of an upside as any kid we've had," Baker said. "He runs like a running back and can throw."
As for the backfield, Baker said his offense will "always" start out of a two-back set.
"When you get into your gun and your open sets, the blocking stays the same up front," he said. "Really, in our offense, when you take one back out of the backfield, the quarterback assumes the running back responsibilities."
As for the running backs, the team returns Johnson, who averaged 4.7 yards a carry in 2012. He will lead the backs, but Baker said the team has depth there.
"[Johnson] may be as talented a kid as we've ever had back there, and can do a lot of things," Baker said. "He was a quarterback in junior high, and the last two years for us he's been a running back. But when you start getting into multiple sets, he might be somebody you look for, being able to do the wildcat package and some things."
Eric Maskey, who played tight end last season, is shifting to fullback.
"He's done a tremendous job," Baker said. "Where Gunnar is 5-11, 190, Eric's 6-3, 195-200. So you've got quite a load there."
Baker said Kevin Lonsway can play either tailback or fullback, while Austin Shock (tailback), Alex Daniel (fullback) and Trevor Zender (fullback) also are options.
Baker said the Warriors have competition for playing time at tight end. Bryan Schube is moving from fullback, while Derrick Sowers is coming off a shoulder injury last year. Freshman Caden Emshoff, in the words of Baker "might be the most talented of all of them.
"They can all play," Baker said.
At the receiver spots, the Warriors return Mitch Parker, who caught six touchdowns and had 469 yards last season. Baker said, though, that the team is waiting for him to return from a "medical issue."
Logan Stillberger also will see time at receiver.
Baker called this season's offensive line a "back to the future type of thing."
He said the group has come a long way since last season.
"This year, all of a sudden, these guys have matured, doing a great job in the weight room," he said. "We're still a little bit young in a lot of spots, but they've really done a nice job developing themselves."
It starts with senior guard Devon Fredritz, a 6-1, 230-pound guard. Arin Mullins, who was a heavyweight on the school's wrestling team, will be at a tackle spot, while Collin Fox is set at center. Senior Tyler Baird and sophomore Mason Hammond should see time at guard, while Tyler Pummell also will play there.
Mohawk will be looking to improve on defense this season after struggling in '12. The Warriors were third from the bottom in overall defense, and especially struggled with the running game. Opposing offenses averaged more than 212 yards on the ground, the second-worst mark in the Midland Athletic League.
"We were giving up - very untypical for us - more than 300 yards rushing for half the season, it seemed like," Baker said. "At the end of the year we righted the ship pretty well."
Baker said continuing that improvement is a priority.
"[We're] more stop the run first," he said. "Make them throw on our terms. So it's our expectation that we'll be better on that side of the ball."
The coach said he's happy with his defensive line.
"We're actually trying to get back to what we used to do, where we try to play eight kids for four spots," he said. "And you have, like, a starting D-line and a starting O-line and each one backs up the other side. We're pretty close to being back to that."
Zender (who Baker called "the fastest kid on our team") will be in the rotation at end, while Baird and Fox also are in the mix.
"We feel pretty solid there," Baker said.
Pummell, Mullins and Fredritz are expected to play inside. Dominic Smith also has impressed Baker there, as has freshman Cole Draper.
Baker said the team is shifting from a base 4-3 to a 4-4.
"With Grant Price graduating, we don't have that typical middle linebacker that we've had," he said. "But instead, I think we're a little bit stronger. Eric Maskey, Mason Hammond and Bryan Schube have been sharing the two inside spots, and did real well in our scrimmage last week."
Lonsway and Gucker are expected to occupy the outside spots, with Sowers and Daniel also seeing time there.
Baker said Mohawk's secondary is probably the most experienced group he has.
Parker, Stillberger are expected to play at cornerback, while Johnson likely will play at free safety. The coach said Shock and Ryan Strausbaugh - both sophomores - also are competing for time in the defensive backfield, as is senior Hunter Fitschen.
Baker said Maskey will handle both kicking and punting.
"Of all things, he's getting recruited most for his leg," Baker said. "He's 6-3, 210.
After averaging about 38 yards a punt last year, the coach said Maskey went to some college camps, and "exploded, as far as his technique.
"During the course of all that, he learned to place kick and kickoff. He's one-stop shopping for us right now."
As for the return game, Baker said Johnson and Stillberger, who returned kicks last season, will get a chance this year, along with Shock and Strausbaugh. Parker, who had a few big returns in 2012, is expected to be back for punts again.