One of the oldest offenses in the history of football goes on display Friday night in Willard.
Both Willard (4-2) and Republic (3-3) run variants of the single wing, which Glenn “Pop” Warner created in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Warner wanted to find a new way to create rushing opportunities for halfback Jim Thorpe.
More than a century later, Republic coach Wes Beachler installed the single wing in Republic in 2013. It was a slight departure from the double wing Beachler’s teams ran at Parkview and Nevada.
Beachler explained that he didn’t want to deviate too far from what Republic had been doing under coach Kurt Thompson, now at Kickapoo.
“Under Coach Thompson they’d been in the pistol, and when we got under center we had issues there,” Beachler said.
Republic typically runs the single wing with the quarterback in the shotgun, two tight ends, a wingback lined up just outside one of the tight ends, and a fullback and a halfback somewhere in the backfield.
From above, the formation resembles an aircraft wing, hence the name of the offense.
“We still call it a shotgun wing,” Beachler said. “I feel very fortune this year that we have a lot of kids who have bought in.”
Republic rushers Jerney Jones, David Feil and sophomore quarterback Riley Watkins have all enjoyed running for big gains behind an offensive line anchored by senior tackle Skyler Hale, a 6-foot-5, 255 pounder.
Beachler said he tailors his game plan according to the personnel on the Tigers’ offensive line.
“The thing I liked about it was if you had big, slower linemen, you could do three, four, five yards at a time. If you had a more athletic line, you could do more sweeps and edge type stuff,” Beachler said. “We feel like we can run the ball well regardless of our linemen.”
The speedy Jones, a state qualifying track and field sprinter, leads Republic in rushing yards. However, there have been games where Feil or Watkins led the rushing attack.
“Jerney Jones is a tremendous talent, but if everybody’s keying on him we can run our quarterback a little bit more that night or run our wing a little more that night,” Beachler said. “You’ve got to have unselfish kids, and we have that. If you have a kid that wants to get 25 or 30 touches a game, it’s probably not going to happen.”
The Springfield News-Leader Game of the Week showcases one high school football game per week through the regular season. The Game of the Week is selected by News-Leader staff based on an array of criteria including quality of play, rivalry, conference significance and playoff implications.
News-Leader Game of the Week
Republic (3-3) at Willard (4-2)
Friday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m.
Tiger Stadium, Willard Middle School
205 Miller Road, Willard
Willard’s offensive line holding ground despite loss of experience
5 things to watch as Bears open basketball practice