Cyclones change offense after slow start

Greg Mast

The Ottawa High School football team’s offense was mired in a funk after three games.

The Cyclones were averaging less than 70 yards a game. Ottawa coach Rob Hedrick, who is in charge of the offense, went back to the drawing board before Friday’s homecoming game against state power Paola.

He revamped the offense.

“We are not completely changing our offense, but we had to do something,” Hedrick said. “Averaging 67 yards a game just is not going to cut it. We are adding option and parts of the flex bone. We are going to start running a lot of option and veer option because we got an absolute dude at quarterback in Noah McCullough.”

Ottawa had three days of practice with the new offensive scheme and showed flashes of what it may accomplish against the Panthers in the 62-7 loss.

“The veer and option is extremely hard offense to run,” Hedrick said. “We will get better at it. We moved the ball, but we did not finish drives. We showed some impressive flashes against a very good defensive team.

“I don’t know how wise it was to change a good part of your offense in mid-season, but we had to. We only had one way to go, up. We did go up.”

Turnovers hurt Ottawa again. The Cyclones had five turnovers.

“That kicked us in the tail,” Hedrick said. “We had some terrible decision making in special teams. Paola is such a super team.”

McCullough used his athletic ability to shake free for a 43-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. He veered outside and sped up the sideline for the touchdown.

“We did some really good things,” Hedrick said. “We took some positive steps. If we can continue down that track, I think we will win some games. We have to continue to improve every week.”

Hedrick said losing is hard on everybody.

“We have had three years of this now,” he said. “It is not an easy battle for the coaches, kids, or community. There is nothing easy about losing. The only lesson in losing is, it stinks to lose. It is a continuous mental grind. You have to do a lot of mental coaching to yourself and the kids to keep it upbeat. We have to keep grinding and make plays.

“We are done with excuses. We have to start winning football games. We are in a stretch of games where we have to start playing better.”

The coaches believe in their players, Hedrick said.

“I love this group,” he said. “They are great kids. You have to allow yourself to be coached. If you make a mistake, you have to own up to it and let me coach you to correct it. That is how you win games. You fix mistakes and play better, execute and beat people across from you.”

Ottawa (1-3) will have a full week of practice on the new offensive scheme when it plays Bonner Springs Friday at Steve Grogan Stadium.

“I expect us to have a hard week of practice, get better at the option and add some wrinkles,” Hedrick said. “They have never not practiced hard. We have to play solid football.”