Ryan Maddox isn’t set in his ways. If it means improving an already-explosive offense with seemingly no weaknesses, the third-year Monrovia High School football coach won’t hesitate adding finishing touches.
Such is the case this season for a Wildcats (9-2) team that averages nearly 40 points per game. Maddox this season added a new concept to the Wing-T offense that’s proven to test the endurance of every opponent – a no-huddle offense.
The concept was applied after Monrovia lost to San Dimas in Week 3, and the Wildcats haven’t lost a game since. They are riding an eight-game winning streak heading into Friday’s game against Schurr (7-4) in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
“Last year we were more about ball control and we threw the ball a ton,” Maddox said.
“We spread it out so that we can run the ball, but in doing that we had too many people going both ways.”
The no-huddle offense accomplishes several things, including fewer players playing both ways. In fact, only two players are doing so now: senior Jay Henderson and sophomore Anthony Craft, both of whom play wide receiver and defensive back.
Junior Ellis McCarthy started the season at offensive tackle, a new role for him after he play tight end last season. In the no-huddle offense, the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder switches back to tight end in special packages, but overall he concentrates solely on anchoring the defensive line at tackle, making the defensive specialist with 11 sacks an even better weapon.
“He’s humongous,” Maddox said of McCarthy. “He’s a man, really. He’s starting to really understand how to use his frame.
“He’s just so hard to block. It’s definitely a team game, but when you have somebody special like that you have to find ways to account for him, and that allows our other defensive ends and linebackers to make big plays.”
That will be Schurr’s biggest concern, given senior quarterback Aaron Cantu (2,272 yards, 18 touchdowns) likes to sit in the pocket and allow plays to develop. Cantu, however, may not have that luxury against Monrovia.
“For a true pocket passer, you want to put pressure on them,” Maddox said. “That disrupts their timing and flow of the game. They’re not going to beat you with their feet.
“He can step around and moves decently within the pocket. He is good about checking receivers, whereas somebody like Nick (Bueno) is able to get himself out of trouble.”
McCarthy’s prowess calls for double- and even triple-coverage, which allows defensive ends Adrian Velasco and Jerome Brown to wreak havoc of their own, and they have. Brown, a senior, is second in sacks with six while Velasco’s quickness and physicality off the block often allows for the pocket to collapse and leaves little room for quarterbacks.
Lorenzo Casas is the other junior defensive tackle along with McCarthy. Casas has taken advantage: he’s third on the team in sacks with four.
Monrovia last season had a strong stable of running backs with varied styles. Bueno has shouldered most of the responsibility on the ground this season with 1,314 yards and 11 touchdowns. Christian Blanco, Michael Harris and Marquis Bias still provide variety in the backfield, which means Derrick Johnson, who spent a lot of time sharing carries last year, can concentrate on anchoring the defense at linebacker.
In a sense, the no-huddle offense also improved the already-stout Monrovia defense, giving the perception that the Wildcats have no weakness. Penalties, miscues and turnovers are battles Monrovia strives to win, and when it does, it means opposing teams struggle to keep up with the Wildcats’ up-tempo pace.