Columbus head coach Blake Hoge installed the wishbone offense ahead of last year’s playoffs, where the Cougars eventually fell in the quarterfinals at Glasgow. Fast forward through a summer and full regular season of perfecting that offense, and this Columbus team is among the most efficient in all of Class B.
“It’s no secret what we’re trying to do. Control the ball, three yards and a cloud of dust, and as long as we take care of business, I think we’ll be alright. That’s going to totally be the plan. If we control the ball and minimize their touches, it’ll end up in our favor,” Hoge said.
It wasn’t an easy adjustment for quarterback Caden Meier at first, as the Cougars threw the ball around the yard frequently last fall. The meticulous preparation of he and his teammates has allowed this team to prosper in its run-first scheme.
“It was a little difficult at first, like always. Anything you start out is hard. By the end it just got better. It opens up play-action passes, which is what we did today. The running backs, I’ve got to give them a lot of credit, and the linemen, too,” Meier said.
“He’s done great. It’s all about discipline. Giving the ball to the right guy, carrying out your fakes and you’ve got to do the same thing every time so the defense doesn’t know where the ball is at. He’s kind of relished in that and I’m proud of him,” Hoge said of Meier.
It sure helps having an all-state wide receiver to lure the attention of the defense, as well. Colby Martinez feasts on single coverage, which has forced teams to double-team him throughout the year. That’s led to the Cougars being able to dominate with their ground game.
“It opens it up for our running backs. We had some big runs today, but they put two or three guys on Colby it leaves the box wide open,” Meier said.
“We love it when they put those two or three guys out there. It lightens the box for us, and he’s such a great athlete that if the ball gets near him at all, you kind of saw tonight, he’ll go up and make those plays,” Hoge said.
That running attack will be critical when the Columbus visits top-ranked Florence in Saturday’s quarterfinals. It’s also a chance for Hoge to show some folks back near his hometown an offense they’re familiar with.
“It’ll be fun. I’m from Frenchtown and we use to run the wishbone, so I’ve got some fans, some old coaches and stuff that will probably come down and see how it looks in a green jersey,” he said.
Columbus and Florence are slated to kick at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.