CHAMPAIGN – For four seasons, Champaign Central's offense has been defined by a spread, shotgun attack.
Starting Friday, fans will notice a few changes with the Maroons' offense. But the folks running it remain the same, and they'll be a big reason if Central is able to take the next step past the first round of the playoffs.
Quarterback Doug Kyrouac returns for his fourth year as a starter and running back Denzel Stewart, the school's all-time leading rusher, is back for his third. But this time they'll be performing in what might look like a radically different offense.
It isn't, really. Looks might deceive.
"We've really tweaked our offense," Central coach Dave Jacobs said. "We've added a lot of wrinkles, but it's just a few schemes. It's going to look like a lot, but it's really not."
The looks will be different because Kyrouac, who operated almost exclusively from the shotgun in years past, will be under center "90 percent of the time," Jacobs said. That means Stewart, instead of being offset in the backfield alongside his quarterback, will run from the I-formation.
For the first time since his tenure at Rochester, Jacobs is coaching the offensive line.
"It's been refreshing for me, and it has helped get me going and slowed me down," he said. "I'm not trying to get everything in right now."
Perhaps most important, he can rely on a veteran quarterback who is poised for a solid senior season. Kyrouac needs 524 yards to become the school's career passing leader, and he has a veteran corps of receivers to help accomplish that.
It is Kyrouac's experience, however, that could boost the offense the most. Jacobs will count on him to get the Maroons into the right play if the defense is lined up to stop the one the coach has called.
"Doug's real smart. He'll be able to recognize coverage," Jacobs said. "The biggest thing we're doing with him is we don't want to waste a play. I want to get to where we can call two plays in the huddle. If we get lined up and the defense is lined up to stop it, we need to get into something else."
What to watch
Three reasons Champaign Central has reason to be optimistic
heading into the 2009 football season:
1. Help's on the way
The retooled offense can enough weapons to take pressure off of running back Denzel Stewart. Tops among them are athletic receivers Reggie Walker and Terrell Brown.
2. Linebackers galore
The top defensive players return. The linebacker corps is headed by Tyler Finkbeiner, Brandon Ward and Adam Acheson.
3. Oldies but goodies
The team's experience factor rarely has been greater. A group of 28 seniors has been through it before, and many of them are entering their third season as starters.