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Southlake Style

The New Dodge Offense Takes Shape

Oct 05, 2018 12:33AM ● By Skylar Kalb
as seen in Dragon Pride Fall 2018
By: Justin Thomas 

The Dragons will have a new face offensively as former state-winning quarterback Riley Dodge takes over as head coach and brings along a new-look staff led by offensive coordinator Marshall Williams, who arrives at Carroll from Fort Worth Brewer.

Dodge, who spent the past two seasons as a quarterbacks coach at Marcus and offensive coordinator at Justin Northwest, noted the Dragons will attempt to stress opposing defenses with their up-tempo philosophy. While under Dodge's direction, the Justin Northwest Texans averaged better than 38 points per game and scored at least 44 points on six occasions.

Fitness will perhaps be even more vital than in years past as Dodge believes in minimizing substitution and personnel changes to keep the defense on its heels.

That's not to say Carroll won't employ numerous formations, however. Versatility in skill sets among the starting unit will be held in high regard.

Fortunately, Carroll has key players, and college caliber ones at that, returning at the skill positions and giving the Dragons a leg up in their transition to the new offense. Last year, first-year starters Will Bowers (quarterback) and TJ McDaniel (running back) led a Carroll attack that posted 35.2 points and 429 yards per game as the Dragons made a run to the fourth round of the playoffs following a 7-3 regular season.

Carroll scored at least 28 points in all four playoff games and was never held to fewer than 20 points in any contest with a season high of 51 in a district win over Lewisville. The Dragons were also fairly balanced, throwing for 184 yards per game while rushing for 244 yards per contest with 30 touchdowns through the air and 35 on the ground.

Bowers, now a senior, was a big reason why - as he not only threw for 2,519 yards and 30 touchdowns (against nine interceptions), but chipped in 878 yards rushing (6.1 per carry) with an additional eight scores en route to First Team District 5-6A honors. Dodge believes the running ability of Bowers will be critical to Carroll's ability to consistently move the football.

That proved to be the case in Carroll's season-opening win over South Grand Prairie, 25-8, when Bowers actually paced the squad with 104 rushing yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.

McDaniel, meanwhile, was a revelation in the Dragons' backfield in 2017 after spending much of his time as an underclassman at Coppell in the secondary. As a junior, the transfer burst on the scene to First Team All-District honors and was among the leaders in the Metroplex after rushing for 1,862 yards on 237 carries (7.9 per attempt) with 23 touchdowns to go with 181 receiving yards and another score.

McDaniel's numbers could have been even loftier, potentially even surpassing 2,000 yards on the season, were he not injured late in Carroll's playoff run. The senior - and younger brother of former Coppell standouts and collegiate running backs Cam (Notre Dame) and Gavin (Washington) - will also enter his 2018 campaign sans any recruiting distractions as he has already committed to play at the next level at SMU. In the first game of the season, McDaniel picked up where he left off, with 90 rushing yards and a score.

While McDaniel has obviously demonstrated his athletic ability virtue of a Division I scholarship, his gaudy stats would not have been possible without a Carroll offensive line that produced five All-District performers, including three first-teamers. One of those, senior Henry Mossberg, is back to anchor Carroll in the trenches in 2018, while second-team choices Cameron Hataway (senior) and Andrej Karic (junior) also return.

Dodge notes he has been more than pleased with the cohesion and gelling he has seen from the new-look unit, which now also features junior starters Addison Penn and Brandon Barrasso.

Against South Grand Prairie, the line had no problem moving a strong and physical Warriors' defense off of the ball.

The result was a 191-yard effort at nearly five yards per carry.

The biggest shoes to fill for the Dragons may come at receiver after Carroll graduates its top two pass catchers in first-teamers Cade Bell, who has team-highs of 55 receptions, 884 receiving yards, and Hudson Shrum (25 receptions, 300 yards, three touchdowns), as well as First Team tight end Jacob Doddridge (six catches, 43 yards, three touchdowns) and tight end Preston Forney - who is transitioning to defense - and his four touchdowns.

Two-way player and blue-chip defensive back recruit RJ Mickens (junior) is back, however, and could be in line for a bigger season statistically after producing a whopping nine touchdowns on just 14 catches for 298 yards (21.3 per catch) last year.

Wills Meyer returns as a big-play threat for the passing attack after averaging better than 20 yards per catch with three touchdowns as a junior. 

Senior Patrick Traynor also brings speed to the position alongside Mickens, while seniors Carson White (nine receptions, 141 yards, two touchdowns) and Glenn Mitchell and junior John Manero profile more as possession receivers. 

Statistically, the Carroll passing attack was lacking in the win over South Grand Prairie.

Bowers was efficient with a completion percentage of 55, but managed just 71 yards through the air.

Additionally, McDaniel was the only Carroll player to record more than two receptions (4-18), while White has two catches for 16 yards and Mickens had two receptions but managed only five yards.

Meyer and Traynor, meanwhile, had receptions for 14 and 15 yards, respectively, but Dodge believes the lack of passing yardage had more to do with the South Grand Prairie defense than Carroll's performance.

"That's a really good defense over there and a very talented secondary," Dodge says. "And they play a lot of man in the back. When you have that, you kind of know it's going to be more of a running night and it's tough to account for both our running back and quarterback. We kind of just took what they gave us."

With Carroll's running game already clicking on all cylinders and a more-than-capable passing attack adjusting, the Dragons are set to have another high-powered attack this year.