When it comes to playing football, Windsor keeps it simple.
Coach Chris Jones said he knows his players have enough to worry about without having to learn a playbook the size of a Mini Cooper.
Part of Jones’ philosophy is reflected in his play calling, in which the only variable is which person quarterback Joe Sanger will hand off to. Or will he keep it? What a twist!
The keep it simple philosophy may be most manifest in the team’s unyielding focus. Each play counts. Each play may make or break your season. Jones said he doesn’t know what will happen when his No. 8 Wizards (10-1) travel to Pueblo West for their Class 4A quarterfinals matchup against the No. 1 Cyclones (11-0), but he does know one thing.
“Here’s what I know: I know our kids are going to go down there and take it one play at a time,” Jones said. “We work all week long so that when that one play comes up, we make that play.”
The Wizards had plenty of poor plays last week but managed enough good ones to come away with a 20-12 win over Broomfield — the Wizards’ 10th straight victory. Despite seven fumbles in near-blizzard conditions, Windsor hopped to an early 14-0 first-quarter lead and didn’t look back.
Pueblo West’s game against Loveland played out in reverse, with the Cyclones scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pad the score toward a 35-10 win.
The weather is expected to cooperate Friday, with highs in the mid 50s and clear skies. So that should leave nothing but simple, hard-nosed football to decide which team goes on to the semifinals.
“It starts with Joe (Sanger) making the right reads,” Jones said. “When it comes gametime, Joe makes a lot of good decisions.”
Most of those decisions come on the ground, where the Wizards average 328.3 rushing yards per game. Whether Sanger is handing off to Blake Bunday (683 yards, nine touchdowns), Jordan Porterfield (675, six TDs) or keeping it himself (1,336, 18 TDs), Sanger gets the Wizards rolling downhill.
It will take more than a simple offense to go into Pueblo West’s stadium and knock of MaxPreps’ third-ranked 4A team, though. It will take some solid defense against a team that does its share of running, as well. The Cyclones rush for 419.6 yards per game and there’s a simple reason for that: Running back Derek Jackson.
Stopping Jackson is the simple answer for Windsor’s defense. That’s easier said than done, Jones laughed.
“I think his worst game is 21 carries for 121 yards and three touchdowns,” Jones said.
The actual numbers are 22, 113 and no touchdowns. No need to quibble with the small stuff. Jackson has rushed for 300 or more yards in five of his last six games en route to season totals of 2,765 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 10.47 yards per carry.
Stopping Jackson has definitely been on Jones’ mind and he has a few ideas in the works.
“I think we’ve gotta do a good job of getting off the line of scrimmage,” Jones said. “Our backers can’t get caught up in the wash. Our DBs have to communicate real well for crack blocks. We’re gonna have to be sure tacklers this week.”
That may sound complicated coming from a coach who likes to keep it simple but that’s nothing compared to the Wizards’ planned itinerary.
Leave after first period Friday. Spend 1 1/2 hours on the road before stopping for lunch (they’ve already called ahead). Head to Colorado State University-Pueblo to put on gear and do a walk-through at the stadium there. Then take a 20-minute drive to Pueblo West’s stadium.
After all that, gametime should be fun. That’s kind of what it’s all about for Jones, who also said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play Pueblo West.
“They’ve got a great tradition and a solid coaching staff,” Jones said.
That won’t change the way the Wizards play, though. They’ll take it one play at a time, as Jones said, and they always intend on winning that one play.
“Our kids, they’re willing to go on any field, anywhere and have anybody play them,” Jones said. “All they know is football, and we don’t treat anybody different than anybody else.”