In 1998, Don Clegg had three offensive linemen for his Wilson High School football team that weighed more than 300 pounds.
In 2016, he doesn’t have three that weigh more than 250.
But as Clegg enters his 29th season as the Rams’ coach, he said this should be one of the fastest teams he’s had.
Now if Wilson can figure a way to utilize that speed and turn it into wins.
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“(Former Notre Dame coach) Lou Holtz said speed going the wrong way kills,” Clegg said. “You have to direct that quickness and hopefully we can.
“We aren’t the Wilson of old. Our approach to what we do offensively has had to change because of the type of kids we get.”
Granted, the team that reached the state championship game in 1998 also had Marcus Trufant at running back and current assistant coach Ahmad Robinson at quarterback. So that squad certainly complemented its size with speed.
But expect the Rams this year to look schematically much like last year — a bevy of screens, sweeps and counters to get that speed into space.
Elijah Jones, Ezra Adams and Danavion Holmes all ran the 100 meters for the Wilson track team this past spring. Jones will switch from running back to a flanker this year so Clegg can get he, Adams and Holmes on the field at the same time.
Adams, a sophomore, and Holmes, a junior, will be the primary tailbacks.
Then there’s Alex Motonaga returning at quarterback as one of the top dual-threat options in the region.
“We’re not super big,” Motonaga said. “But we’ll outrun a lot of people.”
“We’re really fast,” said wide receiver and safety Tevin Hill. “We have a lot of athletes, a lot of skill players.”
It’s also a young team. One that lost last year’s 3A Narrows League player of the year, tight end/defensive end A.J. Ruffin. He and wide receiver/defensive back Montre Lofton-Brown are now at Portland State University.
Last year’s team was 0-3 before reaching the 3A state playoffs for the 10th time in school history. Clegg has just three losing seasons in the past 10 years.
But now Wilson has joined what should be a highly competitive 3A Pierce County League. Five of the eight schools in the league reached the postseason last year — Bethel, Bonney Lake, Lakes, Lincoln and Wilson. Three of the schools were Class 4A last year — Bethel, Spanaway Lake and Stadium.
Clegg said more important than the Xs and Os will be getting this young team to play together and avoid distractions and injuries.
“We have some kids who have not played before. A lot of young guys,” Clegg said. “That’s the challenge we have these days is to blend them together so they feel like a team.
“For the kids — that’s a hard sale because if they’ve never been around it, it’s hard for them to envision trying to win something together. It’s a feeling many of them don’t feel because they aren’t willing to give it up — their selfishness — to accomplish something as a group.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
TNT PRESEASON PREP PRACTICE TOUR
Wilson was the fourth stop on The News Tribune’s preseason prep practice tour, which will include 18 stops until the first Football Friday of the season. What’s online:
▪ Videos and links to every stop on the practice tour
▪ South Sound quarterback competition to find the best arm in the region
Find it at thenewstribune.com/high-school.