At the DFW Coaches Clinic this January, Little Matt and I were able to watch the Red Oak coaching staff give a very detailed presentation on ths spread gun offense they run. The basic premise is most times, they line up in a two back set and begin the motion on the snap. As they are running, either the QB or either receiver actually gets the ball - and the misdirection starts at that point. Coach Mike Shields ran it very well, especially with a beast like Nic Boyd at running back. Red Oak returns 12 starters to this unique offensive style and philosophy.
Nic Boyd quickly gained the attention of 15-4A last year - except it was teams like Corsicana that Red Oak shocked. Nic Boyd is one of the top backs in the state, and although he doesn't have college size, he is still a great player. Grady Latimer looks to take over at quarterback. He is young and could get better as the season continues. Seth Rushing and Jordan Stanford are the receivers. They have to be selfless blockers as well as fast receivers in Coach Shield's system. The offensive line will also need to be retooled. Jeff Munoz, Case Counts and JC Lambley help to form the foundation to anchor the offensive line.
The defense was not heralded last year because of some of the shootouts Red Oak had - but they kept Red Oak competitive last season. The defensive line will be big led by all-state potential defensive tackle Preston Sanders. Kris Manning and Chris Ellisen round out the defensive line. Of the defense, the linebackers are probably the weak link - Joel Espino will need some underclassmen to step up and help. Victor Cooper is a solid strong safety - with Dominique Richardson, they make up a very healthy defensive secondary that can slow down a lot of the high octane offenses in 15-4A.
Considering the fact that Red Oak is in a very middle heavy district - and they carry over the experience of going three rounds deep before losing to fellow district mate West Mesquite, they have to be considered one of the top teams in the district. Both West Mesquite and Red Oak will graduate a lot and will have to retool certain positions to keep the positive momentum alive. I do think Red Oak will ultimately be one of the top 15-20 teams in the area - but the playoff road looks bleak as most teams in 16-4A are also in the top 15-20 teams in the area. Still, even considering Red Oak a playoff team is a strong accomplishment for Coach Shields.