Three keys from the Chiefland Spring Game

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By Ryan Butler

The 2012 Blue and Gold game may have been the most interesting scoreless event I’ve ever seen.  Head coach Aaron Richardson’s choice to make it a glorified practice with jerseys on may have been less dramatic than years past, but it still showed off a lot about the current state of the Chiefland High School football program.
- The backfield has talent (and a lot of it):
Although most of who will be where at what point hasn’t quite been settled (Austin Williams, last year listed as a defensive lineman and guard, saw time at tailback), many players impressed. Richardson said the battle will continue through the summer for the starting quarterback position between rising juniors Josh Smith and James Corbin. In the spring game, both were solid. Both showed good mobility, crisp deliveries and the ability to make plays. The passing game will be used more as a supplement to the running game for Richardson’s offense, but stability behind center will be imperative to the offenses success (see last year’s revolving door of players behind center). With a lot of pre-snap motion and a dense backfield to navigate, a leader is needed to take charge. Richardson said he wants one of the two to step up and be the every-down-No.-1-quarterback. He also said he will use both when needed and even wants to throw in speedy tailback Shaq Patterson into the mix. Combined with Alfonso Timmons and a rotating stable of able bodies, expect Chiefland’s multifaceted, run-heavy offense to be, at the very least, a challenge for all opposing defenses.
- Chiefland’s defense is coming for you:
Not the biggest or fastest unit in the nation, state or even the district, the Indians are going to use their less measurable assets. One of the biggest is aggression. The Indians loaded as many men in the box as they could during the game. That typically left the receiver (usually just one- the defense was playing against Chiefland’s offense) in single coverage with only one lone safety over the top. The other nine men crowded near the line of scrimmage. Obviously the team will adapt for more spread-oriented offenses but, when it can, Chiefland proved it wanted to force the issue. The entire philosophy is to play aggressively on defense, pressure the opposing offense and force the other team to play the way the Indians want. The Indians aren’t going to intimidate many teams at kickoff, but the goal is to make them terrified by the second half. How scary the unit becomes will be determined in the fall. Regardless, it sets it up for an exciting 2012 season for the defense.
- The culture is starting to shift: Remember when the New York Yankees last won the World Series? That final win of the Series was more recent than Chiefland footballs’ latest win. Both were in October 2009. It feels like CHS hasn’t won a game since the Yankees’ first championship- 1923. Not surprisingly, that has put a damper on the program. More honestly, the 23-game losing streak has been a black cloud over the team, and arguably the school. But Richardson, showing off his perfect mix of comedy and intensity, has started to lighten things up while keeping his players’ eyes focused toward the goal. Everyone in town, and everyone on that team, knows it has too much talent to go winless for a third-straight season. It all comes down to the right direction and the right attitude. Unfortunately, CHS is probably not going to contend for the state championship this year. The team won’t be expected to contend for a district championship. But community and school leaders have said this is one of the best spring practice seasons the team has ever seen. With an opportunity on May 25 to beat Bronson in the annual Spring Classic scrimmage, a game Richardson told his team to prepare for like a regular-season game, winning can return to C. Doyle McCall Field. Thats one step closer to a win that counts in the standings. That win, when it happens, puts Chiefland one step further away from the streak- and one step closer to a winning culture.