Friday, July 10, 2009

Kansas: Biehler Keeps Cardinal Rolling Along

Thursday, July 09, 2009
By: Dean Backes

First year Conway Springs head football coach Matt Biehler waited in the wings the past 11 years as three different Cardinal head coaches led the Central Plains Conference football power to Class 3A state championships.

Now it’s Biehler’s turn as he takes over the reigns of a Cardinal program that has compiled a 132-14 record since Mark Bliss first introduced the single wing offense to the school in 1997.

Biehler takes over for Lelin George, who stepped down to concentrate on his administrative duties. George compiled a 38-10 record over four seasons as head coach of one of Kansas’ smaller school perennial powers.

“A lot of the credit for the success of this program has to go to the assistant coaches we have here,” Biehler said of a program that has won five of the school’s six state championships during the last eight seasons. “All of us (head coaches) were assistant coaches here before earning the title of head coach. I definitely think the continuity of our (coaching) staff should get the credit for our success.”

Bliss won state titles in 2001-2003, Greg Rosenhagen won a championship in 2004, his only season as head coach, and George led the Cardinal to the 3A title a season ago.

If Biehler is going to equal that success in his inaugural season, he will first have to find a replacement for all-state running back and Oklahoma recruit Jaydan Bird, who rushed for a state leading 2,432 yards as a senior in 2008.

Although Bird put up some eye-popping numbers during his prep career, Biehler is confident he will be able to find a capable replacement.“He played in a position that would guarantee he would get a lot of carries in this offense,” Biehler said. “I’ve got guys that are hungry and ready to step in. No, we are not going with a running back by committee; we will find one guy that will fill that role. Somebody will step in.”

Seniors Dakota Davis (5-6, 140), Tim Mercer (5-6, 135) and Alec Worley (5-7, 160) will battle for the right to take over Bird’s role as the premier back in an offense that churned out well over 4,500 rushing yards a year ago.

Biehler does have a proven runner coming back in senior quarterback Caleb Brill (5-9, 160), who rushed for the state’s seventh best season total of 1,889 yards a year ago.

Still, Biehler needs production from the running back position in order to make the single wing offense go.

With a running game that rarely failed the Cardinal a year ago, Brill had little reason to chuck the ball. But should he decide to go to the air this season, the senior signal caller will set his sights on Austin (5-10, 150) and Nick Pauly (5-10, 190), returning starters at wing back and split end respectively.

Junior Kayl Barkley (6-1, 215) returns to his tight end position, while senior Adam Schneck (5-8, 150) will compete for playing time at split end.Brill, whose backup will more than likely be junior Tyler Martin (5-9, 140), welcomes back two starters on the offensive line in junior tackle Clint Vancuren (6-0, 210) and junior guard Mason Pauly (5-10, 210).Seniors Daniel George (5-9, 170), Cody McCall (5-9, 175), Scott McCall (5-10, 220) and Patrick Crowell (6-3, 215) will compete for the right to start at one of the other three spots on the offensive line.

Brill, who earned first team all-conference honors as a defensive back a season ago, and Austin Pauly will headline a solid Cardinal secondary. Davis, Mercer, Schneck and Martin should fill in the gaps there.

Returning for their senior seasons are starters Konner Fitts (6-0, 175) and John Doffing (5-10, 170). The duo will highlight the Cardinal line backing corp. in 2009, while McCall and Worley also hope to see some playing time.

Up front on the Cardinal split-4 defense, junior tackle Mason Pauly is set to return to the starting position he held a year ago. Also getting a look on the D-line are George, McCall and Crowell.Although the Cardinal play in a league that has a knack for producing Class 3A state playoff teams, Biehler, as always, has his sights set on success in the Central Plains league once again.

Last season the Cardinal finished third in the conference, but went on to win yet another state title.

“At Conway Springs we always set our sights on winning the league title,” Biehler said. “We like to tell the kids that we want to win league and then make our way into the postseason.“Every year we expect to be playing for the state title. Sometimes we fall short, but we’re always going to shoot for that here.”

The Cardinal open the season at home against a Cheney team that went 6-3 a year ago, and then travel to 2008 state playoff qualifier Douglass (3-7), who lost to fellow Central Plains foe Garden Plain in the opening round of the playoffs.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Local football coaches honored for single wing formation success

Inductee - Jerry Carle on right

June 26, 2009 - 5:48 PM
Jerry Carle, former football coach at Colorado College, finds it tough to talk about his favored offense.

“You mention single wing and people think you’re running a chicken restaurant,” said Carle, 85, who is retired in Colorado Springs.

Tonight, Carle and former Manitou Springs High coach George Rykovich will be inducted in the National Single Wing Coaches Association Hall of Fame at a dinner in suburban St. Louis.

Rykovich is attending the ceremony. Carle will miss his induction, he said, because of health problems.

The single wing offense is, for most football fans, a relic. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the last NFL to run the offense. The Steelers switched to a new scheme in 1951, when Harry Truman still lived in the White House.

But Carle reached back to the past in 1972 and taught his CC Tigers this ancient, complex attack.

The old/new offense worked. From 1972 to 1977, according to Sports Illustrated, the Tigers finished 46-7-2. Carle coached 33 seasons at CC.

Rykovich was watching these developments not far from the CC campus. In 1979, he installed the single wing at Manitou Springs. The offense worked there, too. From 1985 to 1990, Rykovich led Manitou Springs to a 53-6 record.

Rykovich coached 36 seasons at Manitou Springs. He retired after the 2006 season.


The Gazette - Colorado Springs