By BOB CRAMER
Mustang High School’s football team intends to play “PHAST” this season: physical and fast on offense.
It’s a theme new head coach Lee Blankenship has employed the past eight seasons.
The Broncos want to pressure opposing defenses, moving up and down the field with their up-tempo, multiple offense. Mustang returns 12 starters from last season’s 4-6 team, eight of them on offense.
“On the offensive side, we like to snap the ball quick and use a lot of formations,” Blankenship said, noting his staff first and foremost will look for efficiency rather than a specific run-pass ratio.
“Whatever it takes to win the game,” new offensive coordinator Cody McDaniel said of game planning.
“I’m not going to go into a game thinking 50-50 to create tendencies. We’ll force the issue on a few things, but we’re big on efficiency and the more yardage and first downs we can create, it takes us closer to the goal line and increases our chances to score points.”
Blankenship and McDaniel have known each other since 2008, when they played together as seniors at East Central University. Blankenship was the starting quarterback and McDaniel his center.
Their paths later crossed after Blankenship was hired to his first head coaching position, and they’ve coached together all but one year in Blankenship’s nine seasons at Gore, Beggs and Bartlesville.
“We finish each other’s sentences,” Blankenship said of their brotherly bond.
Mustang’s offense will look for leadership from seven seniors — quarterback Hayden Conrad; wide receivers Khary Brown, Chris Doran and Will Haddox; left tackle Cade Williamson; left guard Conner Leeper, and a deep stable of running backs headed by Harvey Phillips.
When opponents do gain possession, the Broncos will call on an aggressive, hard-hitting defense spearheaded by new coordinator Sam Dollar, who is regarded as “one of the top defensive minds in the country,” Blankenship said.
Dollar comes to Mustang after 21 years at Naples, Florida, where his defenses often ranked near the top in the national statistics.
The Bronco defense welcomes back six key players, five of whom are seniors – safeties Liam Krivanek and Joseph Sylvester, middle linebacker Judson Rowland, outside linebacker Bradyn Jarman and lineman Jett Woodward as well as junior cornerback Wesley Haddox.
Dollar’s multiple defense operates from a 4-3 base scheme.
He expects his players to continue to do their homework in mastering the new alignment.
“It takes a while,” Dollar said of the learning curve. “I think they’ve done a good job, but they haven’t played a game yet. The big thing I want our guys to do is prepare for their jobs. To study their notes and scouting reports and be able to answer my questions. If they don’t study, they won’t play.”
During his nine seasons as a head coach, Blankenship is 64-30, including 4-6 last year at Bartlesville.
The Broncos will face a rugged District 6A-1 schedule, which includes Tulsa Union, Owasso and Moore.
Mustang kicks off the season at home against arch-rival Yukon at 7 p.m. Sept. 6.