The Wenatchee offense will be a markedly different machine this fall.
Building off a transition that gained its roots midway through the 2012 campaign, Wenatchee is all-in on the spread offense this season.
The fresh philosophy comes with its fair share of shakeups: More four wide receiver sets, more hurry-up and no-huddle stretches and more autonomy for veteran quarterback Dillon Sugg.
That’s not to say the change in course is going to throw the Panthers out of sync. The new system actually simplifies the playbook, cutting down on formations and plays, and has been a focal point in the offseason curriculum.
“This year we just hit the ground running,” head coach Scott Devereaux said. “We didn’t have to teach formations or anything.”
Wenatchee installed the offense over the course of eight practices in June and spent the remainder of the summer refining the framework.
It’s not just a gimmicky offense meant to confuse defenses or an attempt at staying trendy — Devereaux believes it will bring out the best in his talent-laden team.
“It totally plays to our strengths,” he said.
It starts with the line. The Panthers have a pair of linemen — Trey Adams and Jakob Stoll — that fit the prototypical mold and weigh more than 250 pounds. But the majority of the offensive line is made up of smaller players with less size.
But the up-tempo offense can wear you out pretty quick, so sporting a smaller front five could help keep things moving.
“They’re going to have to be able to run,” Devereaux said of his linemen. “And they found out early in Spring that they got gased pretty quick.”
Devereaux has a number of playmakers who can line up at the receiver position, including returner Spencer Smith, so that shouldn’t be an issue either. The 10th-year coach said he has eight starting-caliber wideouts.
Ideally, the multi-wideout sets will spread the field and help prevent teams from loading the box to shut down Big Nine offensive MVP Isaiah Brandt-Sims.
Of course, plenty rests on the shoulders of Sugg.
The senior signal caller has been working since January to master the new offense and believes the new system will be a boon for his team this fall.
“It’s going to help us out a lot,” he said. “We’re going to be defintiely more explosive. We’re going to have our stuff down to a tee. We’re going to be able to run our plays faster.”
A big part of Sugg’s responsibility lies in keeping the machine humming — he will have license to call audibles and make adjustments where he sees fit and rely on his vast wealth of starting experience to make the right calls.
“I’m going to have to need to know the offense backwards, forwards, sideways, wth my eyes closed,” he said. “Every possible way.”
Devereaux’s confident Sugg will have no issues handling the logistics of the spread attack.
Arguably, though, the biggest question will be how effective Sugg can be with his feet. Sugg, who stands 6-foot-4, has the build of a pro-style quarterback. And although he doesn’t have a history of ripping off big gains on the ground, Devereaux believes the potential is there.
“He’s done a lot better job of running the ball himself,” Devereaux said. “Once he gets going, he’s a pretty big kid. He’s not real quick the first couple of steps, but after that he runs just fine.”
All the parts are there. Now it’s just a matter of whether all those pristine pieces can come together and create some electricity.