Highlanders face also unbeaten St. Patrick-St. Vincent tonight
By Jimmy Durkin, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 11/09/2007 02:35:25 AM PST
PIEDMONT - There was plenty of skepticism from outsiders when word started circulating about the new A-11 offense the Piedmont High football team had in the works for this season.
There might even have been some doubters within the program, but junior quarterback Jeremy George wasn't one of them. "I was pretty optimistic," said George, who returns from a minor hip flexor injury to lead the Highlanders (7-2, 5-0 Bay Shore Athletic League) into today's 7:30 p.m. contest at St.Patrick-St. Vincent (9-0, 5-0) with the league title on the line.
"I felt we did have a slight disadvantage against other teams," George said. "So when it was introduced, I thought, 'Why not?'"
A primary reason the A-11 was conceived was to combat the disadvantages that exist at a smaller school, such as Piedmont, with an enrollment of 941. Among North Coast Section 2-A East Bay schools, that's the second-lowest enrollment, behind only Moreau Catholic (910). And the 2-A includes schools with enrollments up to 1,600.
By spreading the offense out with six receivers, two quarterbacks and three linemen, the A-11 offense allows smaller, quicker teams to compete with bigger, stronger opponents. "For the thousands of small schools like us nationwide that are forced to compete against much larger schools on a regular basis, it's the only way we can be competitive," coach Kurt Bryan said.
When it didn't start out as well as Piedmont would've liked - the Highlanders scored just nine points in their first two games, both losses - it would've been easy to lose faith. "After our first two games, some people thought we were crazy," Bryan said. "But the players and coaches kept believing in the A-11 and learning about it."
George has thrived since, leading the BSAL by passing for 1,234 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 63 percent of his attempts. "It's completely evolved. We've changed so many plays (since the first two weeks)," George said. "I'm surrounded by athletes. I'm definitely glad to have six receivers, because I trust them all. And my linemen, there's only three of them, but they're quality."
With George out last week, fellow starting quarterback Ryan Lipkin - whom George calls his "partner in crime" - stepped in to the primary passing role and completed 15 of 26 passes for 231 yards and two TDs in a 21-14 win over John Swett.
As winners of seven straight, there's certainly a buzz as the Highlanders take on the defending NCS Class A champion Bruins and their 18-game winning streak. "It's going to be huge, and the players are so excited," Bryan said. "It's a great opportunity."
The matchup pits polar opposites. While the Highlanders don't have a back with more than 300 yards rushing, the Bruins have two of the top-five backs in the league in Daniel Wyatt and Robbie Souza, and nearly 90 percent of their offense has come on the ground.
"What's exciting is we're trying to figure out a way to stop their system, and they're doing the same thing," Bryan said. "To say that we have won seven games in a row and are playing for league title, we're surprised - but we deserve it."