Patterson High School football coach Rob Cozart was excited to share the “spread ’em and shred ’em” offense with South quarterbacks Adam Olsen and Adam Herrera.
Herrera ran circles around the Western Athletic Conference during his two-year stint under center for Los Banos, the 2014 league champion.
All Olsen did in four years at the varsity level was help Oakdale to two Sac-Joaquin Section Division III banners and a CIF State Division II bowl appearance.
With their ability to run and throw and make split-second decisions, Cozart believes the South can once again challenge the scoring record this Saturday during the 43rd annual Lions All-Star Football Classic.
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“It’s their competitiveness that sets them apart,” Cozart said of Olsen and Herrera, the only QBs on his roster. “I’ve seen quarterbacks that have been the Trent Dilfer of the Baltimore Ravens types, guys that manage the game and let someone else lead. These guys are competitive enough that they want the ball in their hands.
“I can see in a goal-line situation, if I call an option, they’ll want to keep the ball – and that’s fine. That’s the kind of competitiveness you want. We’re lucky to have two of them, and they’re ready to go.”
The game will be played at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The South, comprised of players from Modesto to Merced, will take on the North, which draws from Manteca, Stockton, Lodi, Tracy and the Mother Lode.
Last year, the South set the scoring mark during a come-from-behind 51-38 victory. Led by MVP quarterback Nate Phillips of Modesto High, the South scored 30 unanswered points.
Fifty-one points isn’t a stretch for Cozart and his hybrid offense.
“With this offense, if we can get the guys all on the same page, we can do some special things with this group,” said Cozart, whose Tigers averaged 49 points per game in a historic season. Patterson (11-1) won its first 11 games and reached the Division III quarterfinals. “I’m not trying to hold anything back.”
Neither will his quarterbacks, both of whom will likely command the huddle for the final time in their careers.
Herrera will attend Humboldt State in the fall. He was recruited as a safety, and Cozart said he may use the 5-foot-11, 180-pound playmaker in the secondary Saturday.
Herrera ranked among the Western Athletic Conference leaders in passing yards (1,321), rushing (1,004), touchdowns (17) and points (102) last fall. He was the only quarterback to top 1,000 yards in passing and rushing. Herrera also was the WAC’s Outstanding Offensive Player in 2014.
“I’m definitely going to miss it. Coming up as a quarterback, I was scared and didn’t think it would be my position. I proved myself and others wrong,” Herrera said. “ ... I’m going to miss having the ball in my hands every play.”
Olsen received interest from Pacific University in Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Stout, but the Eagle Scout has chosen to step away from the game to serve his faith. Olsen will spend the next two years on a Mormon mission.
If Saturday is his last game, Olsen is content with all he and his teammates accomplished. Oakdale won section titles in 2012 and 2014 and lost to Serra of Gardena in the CIF State Division II bowl in 2012. Olsen was one of two freshmen (Darus Nelson) on that team.
Olsen is the Mustangs’ only all-star. Offensive lineman Alex Pena and defensive end Louis Marsella – Herrera’s future teammate at Humboldt State – were selected but dropped out.
“I might as well leave it all out on the field,” Olsen said. “I don’t know how emotional it will be. It’s been a good run for me. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities – playing at Levi’s Stadium, winning section championships. I might as well go out with a bang.”
Cozart will give them every opportunity.
The “spread ’em and shred ’em” offense combines elements of the spread and option offenses while moving at warp speed. Olsen is used to playing with pace. Oakdale’s offense strived to average a play every four to five seconds. Herrera’s improvisational skills will make him a threat on option plays.
“The good thing about this offense is that it will showcase a quarterback’s abilities, no matter what they may be,” Cozart said. “If we got a guy that likes to throw the ball, we can open up the passing game. If a guy can run, we can do that, too, on any given play.
“What’s great about these two, they both can run a little bit. So we might move them into the slot and let them do some wide receiver and running back stuff. We’ll let them be athletes. This is what this game is all about – showcasing these kids as athletes.”
While they undergo a crash course on the playbook, Olsen and Herrera will have plenty of bail-out talent. Jay Green of Beyer and Tyran Daniels of Downey headline the running backs corps, while Michael Lawson, A.J. Stewart and David Walker make up part of the rotation at wide receiver.
“I’m really excited to go with these new guys. There’s a lot of talent out here,” Herrera said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we work as a team.
“I think we can do some damage with this offense. Coach Cozart is a really cool guy, and after seeing how Patterson’s season went, I’m excited to see how this week goes.”
43rd annual Lions All-Star Football Classic
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Where: Tracy High School
Lions All-Star Football Classic rosters
South (jersey number in parentheses)
(1) Kendall McNair, DB/slot, Modesto; (2) Brandon LaBry, RB, Gustine; (3) Michael Lawson, slot/DB, Patterson; (4) Adam Herrera, QB, Los Banos; (5) Alec Espos, slot/DB, Patterson; (6) Jacob Days, DB, Central Catholic; (7) A.J. Stewart, WR/DB, Merced; (8) Jace Alcazar, TE/OLB, Buhach Colony; (9) Austin Stiles, WR, Ceres; (10) Adam Olsen, QB, Oakdale; (11) Talolo Limu-Jones, WR/OLB, Davis; (13) Hunter Terry, TE/OLB, Enochs; (21) Jay Green, RB/DB, Beyer; (22) Rylan Boutelle, DE, Pitman; (23) Austin Martins, slot/DB, Orestimba; (26) Tyran Daniels, RB/DB, Downey; (28) Demetrius Vinson, RB, Gregori; (33) Justice Futch, RB/ILB, Hughson; (35) David Walker, WR/DB, Los Banos; (40) Kekupa’a Freehauf, ILB, Central Catholic; (43) Poaka Kekua, ILB, Downey; (54) Alex McKeon, OL/DL, Turlock; (55) Michael Osborne, DL, Gregori; (56) Ronald Sharlou, OL, Turlock; (62) Javier Canela, OL/DL, Central Catholic; (67) Donato Cipponeri, OL, Modesto; (74) Javon Pope, OL/DL, Beyer; (77) Antonio Villarreal, OL, Patterson. Coach: Rob Cozart, Patterson. Assistant coaches: Steve Cardoso, Larry Cardoso, Benji Lozano, Greg Chatman, Adrian Laurel.
North (jersey number in parentheses)
(2) Lavante Bushnell, QB/WR, Stagg; (3) Ronaldo Tijero, WR, Manteca; (4) Nate Turner, OLB, Tracy; (5) Dylan Byrd, QB, Calaveras; (6) Sean Hamilton, WR, McNair; (7) Osai Brown, QB, McNair; (8) Deon White, WR/DB, Chavez; (9) Terrance Ritzow, RB, Chavez; (10) Nick Arnaiz, DB, Tokay; (11) Wyatt Faughnan, OLB/DB, Sonora; (15) Austin Miller, DB, East Union; (19) Erron Duncan, DB/WR, Weston Ranch; (20) Brandon Zaunbrecher, RB, St. Mary’s; (21) Brandon Sanders, DB, St. Mary’s; (22) Marcus Rivas, DB/LB, Manteca; (40) Jonathan Phillips, LB, Stagg; (44) Conner Johnson, LB, Tracy; (45) Kade Piazza, RB, Lodi; (54) Andrew Guevara, DE, Sierra; (55) Daniel Gonzalez, OL, Escalon; (56) Keegan Wallen, OL, Lincoln; (59) Joshua Fala, OL, Sierra; (67) Garrett Heffington, OL, Calaveras; (69) Alex Buenrostro, DL, Stagg; (72) Tony Harper, OL, St. Mary’s; (73) Joseph Townsell, OL, Lincoln; (75) Francisco Jimenez, OL, West; (77) Rodney Jones, DL, Lincoln; (85) Shane Torre, TE, Calaveras; (98) Frederick Elkins, DL, Edison. Coach: Don Norton, Stagg. Assistant coaches: Roger Esparza, Jacob Pelly, Eric Hankins, Derek Graves, Ray Shelton, Shawn Kilduff, Anthony Lee, Jonathan Allen, Ralph King, Anthony Rosaz.