By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Looking for a quarterback on the roster for Giles tonight?
You won’t find it. It doesn’t exist.
Welcome to the single wing offense, which has been a part of Giles football for years, and has led to three state championships for the Spartans.
“There is a lot of pride down there in Giles, there is a lot of tradition there, they have a lot of pride in what they do football-wise,” Graham head coach Mike Williams said. “It is an interesting place because I assume anytime they turn over head coaches, the prerequisite is you are going to run the single wing offense. That is kind of interesting.”
Williams will see the single wing offense for the first time tonight when the G-Men (2-2) hosts Giles (3-0) at Mitchell Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
“Giles is a good football team, they run the ball well on offense, very sound on defense, they have been up against tough competition,” Williams said. “I would like to think we have been up against tough competition too. It should be a good battle Friday night.”
Giles enters as the top-rated team in the Division 2-West power ratings, having beaten D-4 (Christiansburg), D-3 (Blacksburg) and soundly thrashed Narrows 47-8 last week.
Meanwhile, Graham, which is rated 13th, is coming off a 67-0 rout of Grundy, forcing six turnovers to rebound from a disappointing loss the previous week at Richlands.
“I thought our kids played well, I am surprised it was that much of a point differential,” Williams said. “We had seen them on film, I thought they looked like a good football team and I am sure they will win a few games.
“I was pleased, the kicking game was pretty good for the most part, the offense and defense both did well. We are always pleased to come out with a “W”, especially with a long, hard road trip like that.”
Giles has been paced by a Cody Rhodes-led offensive line and a plethora of backs including Brett Whitlow, Tyler Perdue, Dusty Boggess and Brian Mann, all of whom could receive the snap from the center and then begin a series of handoffs, which can leave the defense guessing on who has the ball.
The Spartans don’t throw the ball often, but can be effective when they do.
“He has got a good offensive line, we have got good hard-nosed kids on defense,” Williams said. “I think they are ready for a dogfight on Friday, that is what it is going to be.”
Williams knows his G-Men — who have been led on defense by Adam Carbaugh (57 tackles) and Chase Asbury (51) — must follow their keys, and bring the Spartans to the ground. Carbaugh had 16 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown against Grundy.
“Their backs run hard and you don’t generally associate speed with the word Giles, but they have got some fast kids,” Williams said. “They all run hard and they are pretty fast kids so you have got to be good tacklers.
“If you get your hands on them you have got to hold on until your pursuit gets there.”
Ask Giles head coach Jeff Williams to key to the single wing and it is the offensive line. Graham’s Mike Williams expects a physical affair in the trenches between the front five on both sides of the ball.
“I think the big thing is you have got to get penetration by your front five on defense, truthfully, why they are so good, they execute well,” Williams said. “Any offense works that is executed well and they execute well.
“They block well, their backs run hard, they don’t miss assignments, they have got a good play-action game, they execute everything well. I think the biggest challenge for our front five is to beat their front five.”
Graham will counter with their own offense, which has scored at least 27 points in all four games this season, led by Dylan Cook, who has run for 406 yards and Colby Hill, who has thrown for 539 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cook, who had 100 yards and two scores against Grundy, has been complemented in the backfield by Charlie Benfield, who has 358 yards on the ground, and that duo has combined for eight scores. Bryce Farris has 10 receptions for 178 yards and four scores.
Much like Giles, it could be the Graham offensive line that will be key, facing a defense that is as physical on that side of the ball as they are in their blocking schemes on offense.
“Anytime you play a team that has a run-oriented offense, they traditionally have a pretty tough defense,” Williams said. “Giles is no exception to that. They are going to have a hard, physical defense because they have to line up against that offense every day in practice so that is what you have to be.
“It is going to be a physical game in the trenches. The defense doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity over there, but certainly they run a tough defense and certainly tough enough to be 3-0 at this point.”
Turnovers have spelled success or doom for Graham through four games. The G-Men had no turnovers in wins over Tazewell and Grundy, and had a combined three in losses to Bluefield and Richlands.
Naturally, keeping the football will be key for the G-Men tonight.
“Offensively, we have got to move the ball, you have got to play the field position game, you don’t always have to score, but you have to get first downs,” Williams said. “That coupled with your kicking game is going to play into the field position game.
“What you don’t want to do is give them or any team the ball with a short field. If we could get first downs, have another zero turnover night and get three takeaways or more, then I like our chances tomorrow night.”