Craig Bruinsma is far from the first quarterback to campaign for a heavier dose of the passing game. But the Ontario Christian High School senior has actually collected some convincing evidence for his claim while developing a calculated pitch to the coaching staff.
For credibility purposes, however, he may want to leave out the part about wanting to break the Ontario Christian all-time single-season passing record.
“We’re in league and we’re blowing some of these teams out and then we get to the playoffs and expect to immediately establish a passing game,” Bruinsma said. “I think we need to throw the ball more in league play so we can be ready to play these playoff teams and handle these closer games. I think coach (Chris) Stevens will open it up some more this year.”
Stevens, the offensive coordinator last season and Ontario Christian’s head coach from 2005 to 2008, resumes head coaching duties this season, a move Bruinsma hopes will translate to more emphasis on the aerial attack.
The Knights ran an offense last season that was a Wing-T in name only. The technical name is actually “Wings ‘n Things,” due to the many variations from the typical ground-oriented Wing-T. The variations simply create more receiving options.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Bruinsma translated that into 1,378 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed nearly 55 percent of his passes, but only had 148 attempts in 12 games for an average of 12 passes per game.
Bruinsma compiled 820 of his yards in the five games prior to Ambassador League play, throwing for over 200 yards on three occasions. He only attempted a combined total of 31 passes during the five league games. With more opportunity, which Bruinsma isn’t shy about requesting, his numbers could multiply in a hurry.
“He’s brimming with confidence,” Stevens said. “We’re loaded with seniors this year and he is ready to lead them.”
Ontario Christian stormed to the Ambassador League championship last season for the first time in five years. Of course, that was part of the problem for Bruinsma. An average margin of victory of more than 36 points in league play, even securing a 19-point win over four-time defending league champion Aquinas, didn’t allow for a plethora of passing plays.
The Knights even won their first-round playoff game, 35-7. It was the next game on which Bruinsma’s request to develop a more cohesive passing game is predicated. Ontario Christian lost 38-0 in the CIF-SS East Valley quarterfinals to eventual champion Chatsworth Sierra Canyon.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons this year,” Bruinsma said. “I think if we open it up we can really be ready to come out of league and go deep in the playoffs. That’s what it’s all about is going deep in the playoffs.”