There can't be anything more frightening for a high school football coach these days than trying to figure out how to stop Corona Centennial's seemingly unstoppable spread offense.
"You have to rely on a fumble," Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson quipped, and his team defeated the Huskies, 51-37, on Oct. 4 despite surrendering 681 total yards.
The genius of the offense devised by Coach Matt Logan is that the Huskies can run or pass with equal effectiveness out of a shotgun formation.
And they have athletes, Matt Scott and Ryan Bass, at the quarterback and running back positions that no other team in the state can match.
"I think a lot of the spread offense is predicated on who is playing quarterback and who is playing running back, and they have two of the best I've ever seen," Concord De La Salle Coach Bob Ladouceur said.
De La Salle (12-0) gets the last crack at Centennial (13-1) on Saturday night in the CIF state Division I championship bowl game at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
Bass has rushed for 6,337 yards and scored 99 touchdowns in his three-year varsity career, but Scott is the trigger man, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior with three years of quarterback experience but only two years as a varsity starter. His speed and ability to execute a no-huddle offense makes him the standout player on display this weekend.
He has rushed for 1,010 yards and passed for 2,326 yards.
"His development the last two years has been absolutely incredible," Logan said. "The best thing he does is he's so smart out there. It sometimes gets lost with all he does."
The signs of Scott's emergence as a bona fide top college prospect could be seen during the summer. Dressed in a tank top, with muscles visible, he showed off a powerful right arm and the ability to roam the field with the quickness of a running back.
Arizona offered him a scholarship and he quickly accepted. Bass is also headed to Arizona.
Another important aspect to the Huskies' offensive success is that no-huddle scheme. It creates such a quick tempo that defenses have a difficult time adjusting, let alone getting substitutes into the game.
"It's really hard to simulate in practice," Logan said.
Centennial has five coaches talking with each other on headphones, thinking a play ahead. Once the play is signaled in, Scott can look at the defense and decide how to proceed.
"We try to get the defense tired and overpower them," Scott said.
What's unusual about the offense is that it's run-first. The conventional wisdom about a shotgun formation has been that it's pass-first. Logan was told countless times he'd have trouble devising a consistent rushing attack, especially as the ball nears the goal line. But Scott and Bass have proven the perfect fit for a formation that spreads the defense and dares opponents to cover individuals one on one.
"They're very impressive," Ladouceur said. "They're better than any team we've faced."
Of course, Centennial isn't unbeatable. Mater Dei figured out how to defeat the Huskies -- the Monarchs outscored them in a nonleague game that featured a state-record 1,302 total yards. Scott rushed for 177 yards and passed for 178 yards.
That's the dilemma for defenses. Do you force Scott to run? Do you force Scott to pass?
At times, he is capable of pulling off the same athletic feats as some of the best college quarterbacks.
"I would love to put myself up with Tim Tebow and Dennis Dixon," he said. "They're great quarterbacks. Unfortunately, I'm not there yet."
He's getting closer with every game.
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