Don’t expect to see the Richmond Hill quarterbacks handing off a lot this season.
When the Wildcats hired new head coach Matt LeZotte last year, they brought on someone who understands the intricacies of the spread formation.
Calling the plays for LeZotte’s offense will be second-year coach Rusty Perry. Perry spent time at St. Andrew’s coaching under local legend Jack Miller during the final coaching stop of his 53-year career.
Last year was Perry’s first season with the Wildcats, and he coached outside linebackers. However, also doubling as the Wildcats golf coach, Perry ended up with the quarterbacks last spring.
“It wasn’t a hard transition because I have coached quarterbacks before,” Perry said. “We really started to see a lot of the hard work that has been put in since spring and the camps and time that we have put in this spring.”
Perry has plenty of quarterbacks to look at, too, because there are five who could compete to start for the Wildcats.
Coming into the season, Perry will have some options allowing him an opportunity to display a diversified offense.
“I think going to the spread is certainly going to help us because it will give us the ability to be able to spread defenses and use our athleticism,” Perry said.
Senior Xavier Bryant-Long scored four touchdowns last season off 91 carries for 511 yards. A run-first threat at quarterback, Bryant-Long and a graduated backfield averaged 243 yards per game on the ground.
Junior Brian Hughes, who played in four games in the 2014 campaign, gives Richmond Hill more versatility.
The ground game still is important to the Wildcats, but the triple option/wing-T running offense doesn’t fit the Wildcats’ personnel, and the spread should give them a more-varied look.
Running backs coach Tom Corbin’s group was hit hard by the graduation, but several players could step up — including senior Aaron Chick — to lead a running-back-by-committee system.
The head coach will not be the only LeZotte on the Richmond Hill staff this season.
His brother Tony, who also played at James Madison as a safety and went on to coach there, is joining the Wildcats to help coach the offensive line.
“I’ve only been here for about a week or so, but I have seen these kids really work hard,” Tony LeZotte said. “We are going to be young on the offensive line, but I think over time, we should be OK.”
Joining the younger LeZotte to work with the offensive line is Chad Blanton, who had been at Wayne County and followed the elder LeZotte to Richmond Hill. Chris Scholar also is working with the offensive line.
A pair of experienced linemen, senior Asael Hernandez and junior Brandon Novinski, along with senior tight end Taylor Milbradt, give the line some depth.
The Wildcats have been focused on a punishing ground game the last few seasons, but moving into the spread should give the receivers some more opportunities to catch the ball this season, according to receivers coach Patrick Means.
Means also coordinates the Wildcats’ special teams.
“Special-teams play often decides games,” he said. “We have worked hard in the spring and this summer to be relentless on special teams — not just to tackle the ball carrier, but also make sure we are staying in our correct alignment getting down the field.”