Colton wings its way to title

During the past four years, Colton has won three league titles, including one in the Citrus Belt League.

Stop by Harold Strauss' office anytime, and you're likely to find him watching a tape of a Rose Bowl game from more than 50 years ago.

 

The Colton coach is a historian and a borrower of antiquated football strategies. His team uses both the double- and single-wing attacks, the latter having gone out of vogue in the National Football League in 1947.

 

He collects footage of old teams, buys dog-eared and crumbling playbooks from e-bay and picks the brain of single-wing authorities like Ed Racely of Atherton, all to give his Colton Yellowjackets an edge.

 

"My philosophy is that nothing is really new, it's just coaches giving things their own little twist," Strauss said. "I love mis-direction and direct snaps. I'm a big fan of Louisville and Ohio State. When they use a direct snap they're really just running the single wing, but they won't admit it."

 

To watch Colton quarterback Josh Pope perform the "spinner" play is like traveling back in time to the days of leather helmets with no facemasks.

"It's kind of a back-to-basics thing," Strauss said. "And maybe I am a little nostalgic."

 

Strauss has been successful, too. His team has clinched at least a tie for the San Andreas League title, heading into tonight's showdown with second-place Cajon. Colton (7-2 overall, 4-0 league) can wrap up an outright title by knocking off Cajon (6-3, 3-1).

 

During the past four years, Colton has won three league titles, including one in the Citrus Belt League.

 

The thought of facing Strauss' team with all of its offensive shenanigans had Cajon coach Kim Battin fretting earlier in the week.

 

"It's not good to face them on a short week, let alone two weeks," Battin said. "They're big and strong and they can throw or run."

 

Outstanding players haven't hurt Strauss' efforts.  Two players off last year's team, two-way backs Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright, are now playing at USC. Also, wideout James Smith is red-shirting at Colorado.

 

While Racely is the nation's foremost authority on the single-wing, Strauss' reputation is growing.

 

Last July the National Single-Wing Sympoisum was conducted at Colton, with Strauss hosting. He receives some 100 to 200 contacts per year from coaches asking questions or requesting tapes on the single-wing. Some want advice on incorporating both offenses into a gameplan.

 

"It's tough to prepare for if you're an opponent," Strauss said. "It becomes like a thorn in a team's side."

 

Cajon's Battin said he will try using the Redlands East Valley formula for defeating Colton. REV coach Kurt Bruich, in defeating Colton 45-12 during the non-league season, employed a five-man line with his ends in three-point stances. Then if Colton switched from a double- to a single-wing, Bruich backed his ends into linebacker positions.

 

Since that game, La Quinta (which also defeated Colton) and Hungtinton Beach Marina (which only trailed the Yellowjackets 14-7 at haltime) have had some success against Colton's unusual combination of offenses.

 

"Of course, REV has some great kids, so that had a lot to do with their success," Battin said of the REV victory.

 

Recent Colton opponents have not been so successful. The Yellowjackets have scored 63 points or more in each of their past three games.

 

Colton is heavily favored against Cajon tonight.

 

Yellowjackets quarterback Pope has passed for 641 yards and rushed for 419. He is complemented by running backs Travell Washington, Nick Reyes and Dwayne Stallion, who have combined for 1,897 yards and 23 touchdowns.

 

Cajon is extremely young, with 18 non-senior starters, including nine sophomores. Tenth-grader Walter Kazee leads the Cowboys with 1,698 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.

 

 


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