116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DECORAH — JJ Sirios knows firsthand what his opponents are up against this season.
The quarterback of undefeated Luther College's funky triple-option offense, Sirios spent his first two years with the Norse as a defensive back. In both those seasons, Luther lost to non-conference opponent William Penn University. The Statesman only passed the ball eight times in each game.
But that didn't make them easy to figure out. William Penn racked up 643 rushing yards combined in two easy wins.
Aaron Hafner, the offensive coordinator of those William Penn teams, now is in his second season as Luther's head coach. The Norse, who went 5-25 over the last three seasons, have baffled opponents with that same option attack — and thrown the ball just 11 times — on their way to a 4-0 start.
'You never know who's going to get the ball right away,' Sirios said. 'I key in on the linebackers and there are a lot of things we can do to confuse defenses. I know what that's like. I remember being so frustrated (against William Penn).'
The perfect start has made football games an event on the Luther campus, which Sirios said was 'night and day' compared to previous seasons. The team is expecting huge attendance for Saturday's homecoming game.
'It's been unbelievable,' Sirios said. 'A huge buzz around campus. Professors always showed us support, but now it's overwhelming. People are decorating our hallways. I've never seen that before.'
Thanks in large part to an offense that is dominating on the ground after the players spent last season adapting to it.
'I grew up around option football,' Hafner said. 'I believe in that philosophy. It took some time, like anytime you change a philosophy, but our kids have really bought in.'
The Norse have been solid defensively, too, allowing less than 18 points per game, led by senior safety Matt Scheidle.
They are averaging 419 rushing yards per game with Josh Vos gaining 474 yards and scoring six touchdowns. Sirios has 434 and three touchdowns. Alex Hain has 259 yards and Christian Moore and Cooper Nelson each have more than 100.
With so many weapons able to take a handoff or a pitch from Sirios, who played some option quarterback in high school and switched positions under his new coach, you can see why it's hard for defenses to keep up.
'For this day and age, it's effective because it's so different,' Hafner said. 'Everyone is trying to go spread and throw the ball, defenses have a hard time preparing for us in just one week.'
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