BRUSH PRAIRIE — Prairie quarterback Jayson Maddux got the news at his home this offseason.
“I actually started jumping up and down for joy. I started screaming,” he said. “I’m very excited for what this season has in store.”
That news? Prairie head coach Kevin Baker hired a new offensive coordinator, and things were going to change, big time, for Prairie football.
Mike Peck, who helped Battle Ground win 15 of its past 20 games as an assistant with the Tigers, has brought his offense to Prairie.
“I don’t think there are words to describe how much I love the change,” Maddux said. “We ran the option the last two years. I’m not very mobile. I can run if need to, but it’s not my forte.”
Maddux, a junior, is a skilled passer. Starting this season, he will usually have four wide receivers on the field to give him plenty of targets.
“It’s a different process for us,” receiver Jake Bobst said. “Now, it’s running your routes, knowing you’re going to get the ball. You know you’re going to have a high-tempo offense.”
Of course, it takes more than a quarterback and receivers to excel in such an offense. Prairie will start a brand new offensive line this season.
In a way, that can be a good thing with such a huge change in the system. This year, instead of having a big line, the Falcons will roll out smaller, quicker linemen. Christian Cha and Austin Craft are expected to lead the guys up front.
Defensively, linebacker Carson Slagle is the player the rest of the team looks up to, Baker said. Slagle is the lone returning all-league performer for the Falcons on either side of the ball.
All the Falcons will have to step up in order for them to reach the playoffs. A playoff berth for Prairie? That has happened once this century.
The new offense, though, has the Falcons thinking new everything.
“Be the change,” Maddux said. “For a long time, Prairie really hasn’t had the spark. We’ve been on the brink but never turned that tide. This year, be that change. Push this team. Make a playoff run.”
Bobst, a senior, wants this to be the start of something that will last. He wants to know his senior class got it going for the Falcons.
“I’m excited for what we’ve learned and what we are going to be learning,” Bobst said. “It’s going to change the name for Prairie. A new way in Prairie.”
Baker said the buzz is real. He understands Mountain View is the clear favorite in the league, while the other teams in the league are trying to catch the Thunder. Still, he said he would not be surprised if this team does just that.
No guarantees, of course. Just that he believes because he has observed quite the offseason program.
“We already surprised ourselves,” Baker said, noting how well the team performed at camp.
The offseason participation was high, as well.
“The excitement is there. Hope they continue working hard,” Baker said.
“Our whole team’s attitude is completely different,” Bobst said. “We’re not being lazy. We’re showing up. We are committed. It’s a completely different culture than what it has been.”
Besides Bobst, Maddux will be looking in the direction of Nolan Mickenham and Izaiah Ward, to name a couple more receivers.
Just because it is a spread offense, though, does not mean the Falcons will throw every down. It will just feel that way after the past couple seasons, Maddux said.
Slagle and Aaron Brumley will share a lot of the running back duties.
Whoever has the ball, they will be trying to gain yards, score touchdowns, in a new style at Prairie. That also puts more of a target on the quarterback. Not just from the opponents, but from his coaches and teammates.
“I love pressure,” Maddux said. “If somebody is pushing me to success, that feels great. It makes me feel like someone wants me to get better.”
Bobst said Maddux is the leader of the new offense.
“This team is his, and we’re with him,” Bobst said. “We have his back.”