SIOUX CITY | Briar Cliff’s new West Coast offense will be balanced, if Dennis Wagner has anything to say about it.
“Offensively, we’ll be multiple, multiple formations, kind of a West Coast style offense,” said Wagner, the squad’s first-year head coach. “We want to run the football to set up the passing game, but we’re going to pass it equal. We want to have a 50-50, 60-40 balance somewhere in there. We don’t want to be heavy on one side or the other.”
If it comes to a 60-40 situation, the rushing attack could be favored. Junior Noah Ylagan, who carried for 681 yards and a touchdown for last year’s 1-9 squad, likes the look of the “two-headed monster” which he considers the rushing from junior transfer Kwame Johnson and himself.
A transfer from Bakersfield College, Johnson has had healthy competition over the month with Ylagan. Johnson said the two running backs complement each other.
Senior quarterback Dylan Desmarais likes his new set of receivers. He has been handling much of the preseason because of a shoulder injury to senior Phillip Kimble, who passed for 2,205 yards and 13 touchdowns last year for St. Joseph’s (Ind.).
Desmarias, who passed for 1,998 yards and 13 touchdowns for the 3-8 BCU squad of 2015, experienced e-coli before the beginning of the 2016 season which caused him to lose over 30 pounds within a week. He didn’t throw a pass a year ago, but his current backup, junior Chance Barlow, one of six different quarterbacks in 2016, passed for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
Barlow handled quarterback chores in spring drills. Freshman Dillon Ruelas has also taken preseason reps, working with receivers such as Khamren Davenport, a junior transfer who had 32 catches for 388 yards and eight touchdowns last year at East Los Angeles College. Tarik Ballard, a 6-3, 260-pound junior tight end, is also a transfer.
Wagner especially likes the receiving talents of Davenport, Ballard and two transfers, receiver Isaiah Gibbs and 6-5, 250 pound tight end Patrick Hall. Miles Jones is the Chargers’ top returning receiver with 21 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns while Ylagan, aside from his two 100-yard plus rushing performances, had 21 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
From left to right on the offensive line are five junior transfers, beginning with 6-3, 270-pound left tackle Nelson Brockwell. Sam Smith is a 6-2, 340-pound left guard, while 6-2, 300-pound center Michael McGuire comes from NCAA Division I Portland State. Kenny Trezvant (6-5, 430) and Fredy Campos (6-4, 330), will play right guard and right tackle, respectively.
“We have to be efficient (on offense),” said Wagner. “You usually get an average of seven or eight possession in a football game. Our goal is to be at least 50 percent effective getting touchdowns. Until some of our younger defensive players develop, it’s going to be important offensively that we score points.”
Senior defensive back Angel Delgado is Briar Cliff’s returning leader from a year ago, providing 47 tackles and three interceptions. Classmate Nate Ericson, a former West Sioux High School athlete, had 38 tackles and three interceptions while the other returners are junior defensive end Reynaldy Janvier (38 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss) and sophomore tackle Montique Edwards (15 tackles).
New defensive coordinator Kai Ellis is working with a 4-2-5 defense that stresses pressure. Wagner has been impressed with senior defensive end and transfer Nathan Jackson (6-4, 265) while senior transfer Malik Peterson (6-1, 250) and freshman Sterling Ofoh (6-3, 280) have shined as tackles.
Other defensive players to watch include junior transfers/linebackers Jared Eastes and Kenneth Forward and another transfer, junior back Gary Lewis.
“The defense has talent, they’re just real young,” said Wagner. “There’s a lot of inexperience. (Freshman defensive back) Markel Roby has been a standout for us, a young man who made a lot of plays in that first scrimmage and stands out in practice each day.”