The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

August 31, 2013

Diamond players buy in to spread offense

DIAMOND, Mo. — Zach Renfro had his doubts.

Following years of running the ball from the veer or power sets, it took one game as the featured back for the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior halfback to buy into the spread offense.

“I’m sold,” Renfro said Friday night after rushing for a game-high 118 yards on 10 carries as Diamond opened its season with a 34-0 victory over Liberal in Spring River Valley Conference action at the Diamond High School football field.

Like Renfro, Brodie Bien wanted to run the offense on a Friday night before making his commitment.

The results for the second-year senior starter at quarterback? He completed 6 of 17 passes in the first half for 102 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

“Honestly, I like (the spread) a lot; it feels like it is going to open up so many more options for us this season,” Bien said. “Obviously, we have a lot to work on and we have room for improvement.

“It felt like it took some time to get a rhythm going, I missed some open receivers early. Then we started hitting in the passing game before I missed on my last several throws. In the running game, we wanted to establish the zone read one way and get the defense flowing. Once we got them biting on the read, then it allowed me to pull it and make some plays.”

A Renfro 44-yard zone read play left sparked the Wildcats’ first touchdown drive, a nine-play, 92-yard possession capped by Bien pulling the ball on a read play left and taking advantage of an open middle for a three-yard touchdown run with 2:51 left in the first quarter.

His second touchdown run was set up again by Renfro, who caught a screen pass on third down and 13, cut back against the defense and sprinted for a 42-yard completion. One play later, Bien, running another zone read play left, pulled the ball from Renfro and cut up the middle for a seven-yard scoring run.

“I’m really surprised just how well we were able to run it,” said Renfro, who also added a 42-yard run on a toss sweep play in the third quarter.

“Our receivers, tight ends, they blocked it well. Our offensive line, zone blocking, did a great job. When coach first introduced it to us over the summer, we watched the videos on the spread offense. I was skeptical; I wasn’t sure if it was right for us. After seeing it in action, it is fun. Lots of guys are going to get a chance to make plays.”

Renfro’s third 40-plus yard play of the night sparked the Wildcats’ third touchdown, a 28-yard strike from backup quarterback Evan Moreland to tight end Tanner Paradeis on a fourth-down play.

Diamond’s defense, limiting Liberal to four first downs and negative-16 yards of total offense, got into the scoring action with senior corner Jake Goade returning an interception 30 yards for a 28-0 lead with 1:27 left in the third quarter.

Junior tailback Logan DeWitt finished the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:50 left in the game.

“We felt like, with us having to almost replace our entire (offensive) line, it was time for a change; try to go get on people, block them the best that we can and find those seams and creases,” said Diamond head coach Jimmy DuShane.

“I was pleased with the performance, but we had too many incompletions. We tried to stretch the field just because I thought we could. We have some things to work on but this was a good start for our offense and our defense played great. Couldn’t ask for much more from them.”

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