Trying their options: Trip to Nebraska puts new spin on Railroaders

September 01, 1999

Trying their options: Trip to Nebraska puts new spin on Railroaders

BrusnwickBy MARK KELLER / Sports Editor

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photogrpaher

BRUNSWICK, Md. - Where does a high school football coach go to learn the option offense?

That's exactly the question Brunswick coach Mark Mitchell and his staff were asking at the end of last season.

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"We were talking about running the option a little and we kicked around a couple of things," said Mitchell. "The place that came up was Nebraska."

Of course. Where better to learn option football than Nebraska?

"For me and (defensive coordinator) Kenny Lutz, we've been to all the clinics around here," Mitchell said. "I coached in Florida for a while, so I've been to the ones in the Southeast. We thought, 'What the heck? Let's go out to Nebraska and see that.'"


So Mitchell and five members of his staff, on their own dime, attended the Nebraska coaches clinic and learned about option football. They came back with ideas that should give the Railroaders plenty of options on offense.

Now that doesn't mean Brunswick, coming off an 8-3 season and a Class 1A playoff appearance, is going to be a straight option team. The Railroaders will still run the wing-T, but with a twist.

"When you go to those clinics, you pick up bits and pieces. We're not Nebraska, so we can't do everything Nebraska does," Mitchell said. "At the high school level, we have to tailor the offense and defense to the type of players we have."

That's something Mitchell has been able to do the past few years. The Railroaders, behind running back Chris Hill, led the Monocacy Valley Athletic League in rushing last season. In 1997, Brunswick was first in the league in passing yards.

"All of those things are in our philosophy," Mitchell said. "If we have a good throwing quarterback and a good corps of receivers, we'll throw the ball."

One of the biggest advantages the Railroaders have this year is experience. For the first time since Mitchell took over the program in 1990, he has not been foreced to put sophomores on his varsity roster.

"I've had to pull up as many as four or five to fill the varsity in the past," Mitchell said. "It's a situation where you're robbing Peter to pay Paul. All of a sudden, Peter's not doing so good.

"Luckily we're out of that siuation now," Mitchell added.

Junior Alan Webber gets the call at quarterback. Hill, who was battling Chad Dewees for the league rushing title last year when a sprained knee ended his season, will anchor the backfield.

"Chris is worked real hard to get back. The knee is not an issue now," Mitchell said. "I think he's pointed in the right direction."

The Railroaders have size on the front line in Mike Dykes (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) and Wes Shafer (6-8, 275) and three receivers returning from last season.

"When you look at some of the 2A schools we play, like Walkersville and Middletown, they're averaging around 20 seniors. We've been averaging about 10," Mitchell said. "This year we have 18. That evens the playing field a bit."

And gives the Railroaders a few more options.


Nickname: Railroaders

Coach: Mark Mitchell

Experience: 10th year, 43-50

1998 record: 8-3

Conference: Monocacy Valley Athletic League

Returning starters: 7 off., 6 def.

Key players: Chris Hill, RB/DB; Alan Webber, QB/LB; Mike Dykes, OT/DT; Wesley Rowh, DB; Wes Shafer, OT/DE.

Key stat: The Railroaders led the MVAL in rushing last season, one year after leading the league in passing.


  • Sept. 3, at Poolesville; Sep. 11, at Boonsboro; Sept. 17, Williamsport; Sept. 23, South Hagerstown.
  • Oct. 1, at Middletown; Oct. 8, Walkersville; Oct. 15, North Hagerstown; Oct. 21, at Francis Scott Key; Oct. 29, at Smithsburg.
  • Nov. 5, Catoctin.
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