Time for a change

Published 10:05 pm Monday, August 11, 2014

Pike Liberal’s new offense has players excited, optimistic about new season

Finally, the struggle seems to be over.

After toying with several different offenses over the past three years, Pike Liberal seemingly has found one that fits.

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Long gone is Wayne Grant’s I-formation and Gene Allen’s spread attack, and in steps Arlton Hudson with his spread wing-T.

Hudson arrived in the spring, and immediately began overhauling the Patriot O. Hudson has been successful at every stop on his personal coaching carousel, including head coaching stops at Florala, Southside Selma, Hillcrest-Evergreen, Coosa Valley and Gautier, Miss.

Each and every offensive unit Hudson has coached has done one thing very, very well: score points in droves.

“We set every offensive record everywhere I have been,” Hudson said. “I have been using it for about 16 years now, and we average about 4,000 yards a season with this offense. It is a big-play offense, and the kids love to run it.”

Hudson’s offensive scheme will look like a strange marriage between the old school, run heavy wing-T, and the newer, pass happy spread.

The quarterback, expected to be Drew Starling, will line up two to three yards deep in the backfield, just like a traditional spread system.

The running back will line up behind Starling, with a tight end, wing back and split end as the receiving options.

Hudson says the offense will be a run fist scheme.

“It is really a spread with a Wing-T mentality,” Hudson. “We want to get the ball in playmaker’s hands as much as possible, and let them do what they do best. I think we will be about 60-40 run to pass, but that will be dictated by where we are on the field and the situation we are facing.”

Starling, a converted running back, saw action late in the year at quarterback, following injuries to starters Rush Hixon and Brian Adams.

He is a big fan of Hudson’s scheme.

“I feel like the new offense will be more successful than we were in the past,” Starling said. “We have picked up an almost entirely new back field that will help. I like to run the ball, and this offense lets me do that. I can’t wait to get in a game with it.”

Starling isn’t the only Pike player learning a new position in the new system.

Hixon played quarterback last year, but suffered a severe elbow injury during the Patriots’ run to the AISA State Baseball Championship Series this spring.

He has since moved to receiver, and likes being able to contribute in a new way.

“This offense really fits our players,” Hixon said. “Drew will do a great job at QB, and the rest of us will do our job and help him out. We have the skill to go as far as possible.”

While Hudson’s offense might be run first, he has no ill feeling towards putting the ball in the air.

It just depends on what the defense gives him.

“If the defense wants to stack the box to keep us from running it, that’s fine,” Hudson said. “I have a quarterback that can throw it and some receivers that can go it get it. If you don’t want us to run, then come on up there. We are going to mix it up and be successful.

Pike Liberal Arts opens the season August 22 against Macon-East Montgomery Academy inside the friendly confines of Dwight Ward Field at Delaney Kervin Stadium.