High School Football

Rams’ new ‘O’ showcases potential in season-opening win

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 9/26/20

In a lot of ways, Mayde Creek’s new-look offense in the Rams’ 24-14 season-opening win over Conroe at Rhodes Stadium on Sept. 25 was a lot of what new head coach Brian Randle had in mind. And in other ways, it was not.

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High School Football

Rams’ new ‘O’ showcases potential in season-opening win

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In a lot of ways, Mayde Creek’s new-look offense in the Rams’ 24-14 season-opening win over Conroe at Rhodes Stadium on Sept. 25 was a lot of what new head coach Brian Randle had in mind. And in other ways, it was not.

All of that was to be expected for the first game of a program transitioning from a run-heavy attack to a more pass-happy, balanced scheme. So, considering it was the debut in the green and white for Randle, assistant head coach Phil Wilson, offensive coordinator Brooks Haack and quarterback Jace Wilson, they’ll take it.

“I think it was pretty good,” said Jace Wilson, Phil’s son and a senior transfer from Del Valle High in central Texas. “We definitely left a lot of points on the field. But this is a young team, a lot of young receivers out there. Everybody’s first year playing together, really.”

That’s the optimism. And now for the reality.

“If we catch the ball, it’s 42-0,” Randle said. “If we execute, we’re going to be pretty tough. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Rams receivers had about a handful of dropped passes throughout the night and the offense struggled against Conroe’s defensive adjustments after halftime. But it’s also telling that the Rams felt underwhelmed with their offensive effort despite totaling 24 points, 388 yards and averaging 6.3 yards per play.

Rams quarterbacks only attempted 134 passes in 12 games last season, an average of 11.2. The Rams threw 15 passes by halftime against Conroe. And the offensive transition is not even taking into account a lack of depth at receiver—senior defensive backs Joseph Kinyock and Alpha Khan saw a lot of snaps alongside talented wideouts L’den Skinner and Leroy Taylor.

“Once we go back and watch the film, the sky’s the limit,” Haack said. “It’s going to be scary once we’re clicking.”

Make no mistake about it: Mayde Creek still revolves around senior running back Julius Loughridge. Loughridge carried the ball 25 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

But he also caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown, a sign of the times these days for the Rams. Loughridge had not had a receiving touchdown since his sophomore year.

“I’m definitely in the passing game a lot more,” said Loughridge, who caught one pass all of last season.

Mayde Creek’s new offense expands horizons for Loughridge. He is hungry to dismiss the notion that he is just a power back. He showed against Conroe he can be much more if the play-calls allow for it.

“I’m just trying to be a full player, all over the field,” he said. “Just get me in one-on-one situations.”

While Loughridge is the soul of the Rams, Wilson is the heart. The 5-foot-11, 173-pounder had a fine outing, completing 12 of 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns to one interception while rushing for 50 yards on 13 carries.

But the value of the Furman University commit comes in his football I.Q. Wilson looked impressive captaining a team that has only been his for a few months. He only took a couple of sacks, threw the ball away when he needed to instead of surrendering yards or a potential interception, and spread the ball around to five different receivers.

“He’s a playmaker, always looking for that big play,” Loughridge said. “His knowledge for the game is phenomenal. I’ve never seen someone so young who can read defenses like that, calling audibles mid-play. Just a great QB mindset.”

Wilson arrived in Katy in the summer after coming over from Del Valle, where he threw for 2,526 yards and 27 touchdowns to six interceptions last season.

“Originally, we didn’t know Phil Wilson had a kid,” Randle said. “I interview (Phil) and come to find out he has a kid, and it’s Jace. It worked out well.

“Jace is an OC on the field. He knows and understands football. His dad’s a heck of a ball coach, so he has that pedigree.”

Being the son of a coach is only one of the reasons Wilson has quickly established a close relationship with Haack. Their blossoming partnership has expedited the growth of the offense.

“He’s a young coach and we can definitely relate on so many levels,” Wilson said. “He played at Katy, played quarterback. His dad was a coach for him like mine is. I feel like we’re already best friends, always texting and being in his office every day after school. It’s going to be a great relationship and we’re looking forward to breaking some records here at Mayde Creek.”

Wilson guesses that the team is only at about a 65-70 percent comfort level in the offense. Not all the concepts and plays are installed.

“And I’m still realizing what my strengths are,” Wilson said.

That will mostly come down to Haack. The beloved former Tiger is renowned for his offensive mind. Randle had been trying to get Haack on his coaching staff for years. It finally happened earlier this year.

Haack said the acclimation period of a new offense was tough at first, but there was no questioning the buy-in. Receivers constantly called him and were eager to jump on Zoom calls with him to discuss the possibilities.

“They wanted to digest the offense and be explosive,” Haack said. “It’s our job to showcase what all these guys can do.”

Haack credited Phil Wilson, and assistant coaches Javarris Williams and Lee Mattingly with getting players on board with something vastly different than what they were accustomed to.

“It’s pick your poison,” Randle said. “We’re in a unique situation with Julius and Jace. We’ve just got to get our arms around it and grasp it.”

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