Plugged-in Wizards ready to play
September 19, 2015
Plug and play.
Coach Chris Jones is in his ninth year in charge of the Windsor football team. The Wizards' triple option offense has been installed for six years. Their aggressive, hard-nosed defense is every bit as established.
In summary: Windsor's program is at a place in which it can merely plug in new players from year to year, play … and win.
"The freshmen and (junior varsity) guys are (running) the same plays," Jones said. "The stuff doesn't change too much. … The system is in place, and we're not going to change things up and totally say 'We've got to go to this now.' "
If it works, why fix it? And the Wizards' way certainly has been the right way throughout Jones' tenure, which includes a Class 3A state championship in 2011.
While the environment that surrounds Windsor's team has changed time and time again throughout the years, the Wizards' approach has remained the same.
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Windsor moved from 3A to 4A after its championship year in 2011. It has made the 4A playoffs each of the three seasons in its new classification, despite playing in a completely new conference — the 4A Longs Peak — last season.
This fall, the Wizards will have their third starting quarterback in four seasons since winning the title in 2011.
Anyone expecting Windsor to take any kind of step back with the new signal caller might want to think again.
Wizards junior Brad Peeples takes the reins from Tanner Bohm, who was Windsor's starting QB the past two seasons before graduating at the end of last school year.
Peeples provided spot duty at quarterback behind Bohm last fall and even started an early season game Bohm missed because of injury.
Even with modest experience under center, Peeples came into the season with the poise, polish and composure of a grizzled veteran.
Plug him into a team that already has so many other parts in place, and watch him play.
"There are a lot of guys I can give the ball to, and a lot of people are getting behind me," said Peeples, who had 196 total yards and four touchdowns last season. "The offensive line has really helped me move into the starting quarterback position. It's a lot of work, but I think we're all ready for it."
Players are introduced early to all the distinguishable features that make up Windsor football.
"With all of our middle school camps and stuff like that, we really implement that offense over at the middle school," senior right guard/inside linebacker Nolan Lanckriet said. "So we're seeing it from seventh grade — that same offense. So it's really great to grow with that and keep growing."
One desirable byproduct of the Wizards developing a recognizable and consistent program: It rarely takes a standout athlete long to make his impact felt at the varsity level. Just ask junior linebacker/defensive end Corte Tapia.
A year ago, Tapia was Windsor's fourth-leading tackler (87 total tackles) behind a trio of seniors. He was also second behind then-senior Cody Johnson in sacks with 14.5 in 12 games.
"It helps having such a good system in which everyone can come in and know what to do, and they have their own certain role," Tapia said. "When you come in, you know what your job is."
Senior fullback Jake Shields said the system the Wizards have created and refined over the years has also given the team a clear identity, which fosters a higher level of pride and chemistry compared to those of less stable programs.
"The freshmen never know what to expect, and next thing you know, they're right there with us (upperclassmen), because we all bring them in as a team," said Shields, the team's leading rusher a year ago (1,128 yards). "They just want to do things a certain way because all the rest of us are doing it."
Its plug-and-play approach has allowed Windsor to develop another mantra, of sorts: reload and roll on.
Even though the 17 seniors on the Wizards' 63-player roster this fall have the synchronized goal of bringing a title back to Windsor, senior Landon Schmidt said he and the rest of the seniors have the peace of mind of knowing that with such an established self-sustaining system, the Wizards' championship window isn't likely to close any time soon.
"Once we all graduate, kids are just going to step right in, right where they need to be," said Schmidt, who plays free safety and wing back.