ARGENTA — Twenty-one. That’s the number of opportunities Argenta-Oreana had to see what its varsity offense was capable of last Friday.
The Bombers performed just about as well as possible. Their six touchdowns came on a total of 279 yards — and the scoring production came from four different options. Coach Chad Eisenmenger said it’s a blessing to have so many different players able to contribute.
But there is a caveat to having the starters on the field for just a short time.
“It’s really nice getting that many weapons, don’t get me wrong,” Eisenmenger said. “But at the same time it’ll work out for us as long as they understand some games you may be the decoy and you may not get your stats.”
If they didn’t, they do now. Starting tailback Cameron Hupp received the brunt of the workload against Clinton — a whopping six carries. Austin Wenskunas and Taylor Ferrill picked up two carries each, and quarterback Gage Eller attempted just four passes. The Bombers’ set of receivers, led by Quinton Crawley, caught three passes total, but they may not even have a ball thrown their way depending on that week’s circumstances.
And no one can try to pull seniority since all five are seniors.
So while it’s nice to have options — and the Bombers have plenty — it may mean little to no work after a full week of practice.
“You know, it’s something we’re real worried about,” Eisenmenger said. “We would like to get our starters more playing time on Friday night; it just didn’t work out that way. But we’ve been doing this since June so there’s no excuses, and I think they’re ready to go. … They got to be ready for it, there’s nothing we can do about that.”
It’s a double-edged sword for Hupp, because while he knows he’ll be well rested, there’s the element of preparation for a game like today’s in Monticello.
“Well, it’s good obviously because I can get a break, you know? But it’s Week 1, so I want to have as many carries as possible to get ready and prepared for the next game,” Hupp said. “I guess it’s not that big of deal. I get my carries in practice, so when I get into the game I’m ready to go.”
And these Bombers are as familiar with each other as much as any other team in the Okaw. Growing up together through JFL and, for most, a jump straight into varsity play, they’ve had years of practice,7-on-7’s and games to get into the same rhythm. For Eller, those seasons and summers is where his comfort lies.
“I’ve been playing with my receivers over the three years,” Eller said. “It all just kind of comes together for the rhythm, and the timing just all stays the same.”
Eisenmenger said they aren’t running anything new this year, it’s mostly a fine-tuning of the existing Argenta offense. He isn’t a big fan of the jack-of-all-trades offense — “You can do everything in the world, but if you’re not good at any of them, what’s it worth?” — but he has an offense full of players who excel in their niche.
There’s Wenskunas, a state-finalist in track last year.
“Me, I completely just use my speed to my advantage and I think that it’s a big factor in football. If you can move your feet faster than your opponent, obviously you’re going to have an edge.”
There’s Crawley, who at 6-foot-3, is a mismatch.
“Third and 12, I think I’m the go-to guy. We have certain plays if we run it, the corner would have to be very, very good to stop it. If we need a big pick-up, I think I’m the go-to guy.”
There’s Hupp, who scampered to more than 1,000 yards a year ago.
“Definitely vision. I have real good vision. If there’s ever going to be a time to cut back, it seems like I’m always there when we need to cut back.”
There’s Ferrill, who can contribute in many ways.
Opportunities arise away from the offense, such as when Ferrill returned a punt return for a touchdown last week. Ferrill said he’s never disappointed with a limited amount of carries as a back.
“Yeah, coach puts me back on punt returns and Jesse Walker always tells me, ‘Run like it’s your last run.’ And that’s what kept going through my head is, ‘I’m never going to run this ball again, so I have to make it worth it.’ ”
And there’s Eller, who’s charged with the distribution of chances to each player. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep everyone happy.
“We go back and forth, I guess,” Eller said. “I’m not real big on stats, so whatever happens, happens.
“People probably get mad they don’t get the ball enough, but if we’re winning, that’s all that matters.”