Prep Football

Iowa high school football rewind: South Winn is 5-0 behind a new, polar-opposite style of offense

South Winneshiek Warriors
South Winneshiek Warriors

CEDAR RAPIDS — On the surface, you might think Jason Ohrt is a little crazy. Or maybe a little bored.

The South Winneshiek football coach has a senior quarterback named Jacob Herold who is a really good passer.

Herold threw for 2,562 yards and 21 touchdowns last season as a junior. He went for 2,121 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore.

Yet Ohrt decided to scrap his team’s spread offensive attack this season and employ a new one that is essentially the polar opposite. South Winn now runs the flex-bone: the triple-option, run heavy scheme you see Air Force, Navy and Army have success with season in and season out.

What gives?

“It’s been something we’ve been thinking about going to for quite some time,” said Ohrt, in his 15th season at the school. “It just got to a point where we needed the cultural change, and this was the best time to do it. So we made the switch this offseason.”

Hey, don’t argue with the man. South Winneshiek improved to 5-0 with a 26-14 win Friday night over Wapsie Valley in a battle of the fifth and fourth-ranked teams, respectively in Class A.

The Warriors rushed for 321 yards in the game, getting at least 50 from four different backs. That included a game-high 121 and two touchdowns from Herold.

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He completed just 4 of 11 passes for 61 yards, which normally would have meant disaster for South Winn. Not anymore.

“We had kind of put ourselves in a position where we had kind of become a finesse football program,” Ohrt said. “A lot of it had to do with the fact that we’ve had really good pass-blocking kids the last few years. So we built our team around that. It’s not like we’ve always been that way. We’ve always been I-spread up until now, always kind of played with the hand we were dealt.

“We graduated four really good pass-blocking offensive linemen and brought back a lot of good run-blocking offensive linemen. So we decided to make the switch, try and change the culture, and preach to our kids that physical football is winning football, and selfless football is winning football. So far, we are all buying into it and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Herold has thrown just 34 passes in five games, again nuts compared to the previous two seasons. But he leads South Winneshiek with 375 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.

Zach Taylor, Sam Conway and Cael Kuboushek all have contributed over 200 yards rushing. South Winneshiek plays seventh-ranked MFL MarMac this week.

“It was a one-sided rivalry in our favor for quite some time, and last year they got the best of us,” Ohrt said. “Our kids have that in the backs of their minds and know that we need to get back to winning that rivalry. Everything is in our hands. We’ve got the district title in our sights, and we don’t want to share it with anybody.”

West Marshall wears out Jefferson

Cedar Rapids Jefferson and West Marshall hammered out an agreement Thursday to play a football game Friday night at State Center, as both teams had original opponents cancel because of COVID-19. Perhaps Jefferson wishes it had just gone with an off week.

West Marshall went on an opening drive that lasted 9 1/2 minutes and overpowered the J-Hawks, 46-6. It is believed to be the first time a Class 2A school has beaten a 4A school from the Metro.

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Preston Pope had 170 yards rushing and four TDs for West Marshall (4-1). Dkhai Pope had the lone touchdown for Jefferson (0-5).

Eddie Burgess goes off again

Or maybe that should be still. The Montezuma quarterback had eight more touchdowns (six passing and two rushing) in his team’s 71-7 win over Moravia.

Burgess is far and away the state’s leader in total touchdowns, with 37. He has 22 passing, 13 rushing and two on kickoff returns.

His 2,132 all-purpose yards also leads the state.

Garrett Baumhover airs it out

It caught your eye when Western Dubuque Coach Justin Penner mentioned preseason how Garrett Baumhover was as good a quarterback as he’d had at the school. Keep in mind, Calvin Harris led the Bobcats to the Class 3A state championship last season and was The Gazette’s 2020 Male Athlete of the Year.

But, as usual, coaches know what they are talking about. Baumhover leads the state with 1,470 passing yards through five games, including 262 and three touchdowns in WD’s 42-6 win Friday night over Waterloo East.

Baumhover didn’t even go out for football last season.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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