Ganske installs new offense
By Jason McDaniel
Pasadena coach Jeff Ganske unveiled a new up-tempo, more exciting offense this spring, and says the players progressed well in picking it up.
Of course, just about anything they do this fall will top last season's output. The Eagles were shut out in three of their first four games and six times overall, and they averaged just 7.9 points per game.
We needed to do something to get our offense improved and I was trying to find something to make our kids excited about our offense," Ganske said. We weren't very good on offense last year, so I told our coaches I wanted to go with a faster tempo and change things up a little bit, open it up and score a few more points."
By the time the Eagles wrapped up spring with a game May 26, several players were able to show off their grasp of the new style, including Julian Nance and Devonta Gill, who excelled on both sides of the ball.
Nance broke a long run at running back and Gill looked good running the Eagles' version of the Wildcat and playing cornerback.
We're changing our offense up a little bit so at the beginning of the scrimmage the defense did a little better and then the offense found its niche toward the end," Ganske said.
Adding the Wildcat, which is basically a direct snap to a running back, is the biggest change for the Eagles, but not the only one put in this spring to help them improve on their 1-9 finish last season.
We went out of a gun more, which we kind of did at the end of last year, but we're trying to go with a little more tempo in our offense, no huddle and trying to get a little bit quicker pace to the game," Ganske said.
Ganske doesn't yet have a true quarterback to run the new offense, or offensive coordinator to develop the QBs, but he's not without options. He plans to wait to name the QB until his staff is complete.
We have three or four kids and I really don't know who will end up taking hold of the job yet," Ganske said. They all played a lot in the spring and we have five non-district games, so we're going to sort as we go."
The top candidates are returners Hector Davila, Rene Fuentes and Nick Bernal, all of whom say playing time at QB to varying degrees last season.
Bernal came on as freshman on varsity at the end.
Gill and Ivan Benavides also are options under center in the Wildcat.
Whoever is at QB, he will be handing off to Nance and Kris Ungacta, expected to split time evenly next season at tailback. Both also play linebacker on defense.
Ungacta is more of a straight, downhill runner," Ganske said. He runs really hard but he runs straight ahead, goes mostly north and south, and Julian has a little more wiggle when he runs. He has a little bit more speed, a little bit more finesse, and maybe more potential for bigger plays."
Benavides really came on this spring and impressed Ganske. He played safety last season but earned a bigger offensive role with his performance.
He's probably our best overall athlete with experience," Ganske said. He had three picks for us last year and was our leading tackler on defense, and he's going to play offense and defense.
He's pretty steady, does a real good job for us."
Will Canas, who played defensive tackle last year, also looked good this spring while moving to defensive end, Ganske said, but that's no big surprise. He was a leader for the Eagles last season.
Gill's versatility and explosiveness this spring was a surprise.
I knew he was going to be a contributor but he's getting a lot better every day," Ganske said. He has really good quickness and I think he's going to be a good playmaker for us on offense and defense."
The Eagles only graduated 10 seniors, so their lack of experience last year should give them more strength this season. Ganske said they're also riding the high of the new realignment, which has all the Pasadena ISD schools feeling good about their chances of making the playoffs next season.
Last year was a pretty down year for us," Ganske said. We were out of our building for the whole football season. We were stuck in an elementary school without any dressing rooms. Last year our longtime offensive coordinator, Mike Ellisor, wasn't working with us because he was battling cancer. It was just a really hard year.
This spring things have turned around. The kids have a great attitude, we got back in our building, which is good, we've typically had white helmets and we're going to have green helmets for the first time since I've been here which has been 27 years so we're trying to get the kids excited.
We have the playoff goal out there for them and we'll see what happens."
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