Outside the Huddle’s Spring Football series will appear periodically throughout the next few months as we check in on area football programs prior to the rigors of season prep in July and August. What are the things that teams want to get accomplished before the pressures of preparing for the start of the season? OTH reached out to coaches for some answers.
While most of the excitement around Carroll football right now revolves around the new digs (including a large press box!) that the team will play in this fall as part of the high school’s athletics facilities renovations, there is plenty to talk about regarding the on-field product.
Coming off a 7-win campaign, Coach Doug Dinan has some pieces returning – including one of the area’s top passers in Jeff Becker – that put the Chargers in the conversation in the SAC.
What does Carroll want to get accomplished this spring?
1. SKILL DEVELOPMENT
No football program has all of its personnel in the spring due to commitments in other sports. That makes individual skill development paramount.
Perhaps no point of emphasis will be bigger than the one up front. Carroll graduated a lot of skill from its offensive line, as well as its defensive front seven. Road graters like Reeve Muncie and Kyler Bills are gone, as are defensive front-7 stalwarts Ethan Klingler and Hunter Mertz. The Chargers want to identify and develop the next crop of bigs who are going to be able to protect Becker on one side of the football, and create havoc on the other side.
2. SCHEME INSTALLATION
Carroll was unique in 2020 in that it was the highest-scoring offense in the SAC, but was also one of the worst defenses in terms of points allowed.
So, what changes in 2021? Is it strictly personnel? Or does Coach Dinan mix things up schematically in an attempt to tighten up a defense that allowed 30 or more points four times, including in the 42-35 sectional loss to Warsaw?
While Becker was prolific inside and outside the pocket as Carroll’s leading passer (2,581 yards) and rusher (549 yards), there was a considerable lack of a running attack apart from the now-senior signalcaller. Will the Chargers look to take some of the burden off Becker by doubling down on the run game and looking to improve there? Junior-to-be Jorge Valdes could be the catalyst in the backfield with plenty of speed and athleticism to keep defenses honest.
3. FOSTER COMPETITIVE SPIRIT
When looking at contenders in the SAC, eyes immediately go to Carroll due to the potential and skill of Becker. But offensive balance and a stiffer defense will be key.
Coach Dinan wants to see his team compete against one another this spring with a ferocity that not many other programs preach. This is a group that has seen its rival Homestead ring the Victory Bell each of the last two years. To factor in the 2021 conference race, Carroll will need to be strong out of the gate. Bishop Luers, a trendy spring pick as a team to watch, breaks in the Chargers’ new digs with a visit in Week 1, followed by a trip to Spuller Stadium to face a reinvigorated Snider squad.
Carroll took care of business against both Bishop Luers and Snider last year in convincing fashion, but both teams are very much improved. Attention to detail now could be the difference come early-season test for the Chargers.
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