Against first-place Poly, Dunbar broke out a new look on offense to get its most potent playmaker the ball.For much of the game, the Poets lined up in a pistol formation with two backs next to quarterback William Crest. Behind Crest was receiver Deontay McManus, lined up as a tailback.
It was a formation Dunbar hadn’t used all season. But the Poets felt they would be able to muscle their way through a smaller Poly defense with it last Friday night. Though Dunbar lost 18-14, McManus proved that he can make things happen no matter how he gets the ball.
“We knew in practice that they wouldn’t be ready for this,” McManus said. “I’m a powerful runner so they put me back there and told me to run hard and make plays for us.”
McManus carried the ball 13 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Dunbar’s offensive line set blocks up nicely against Poly, and McManus did his part to make defenders miss. Poly coach Roger Wrenn said it was an unscouted look that the Engineers had trouble stopping all game.
“I thought it was a strategically smart thing for them to do and something that I would have done if I had their (players) and they had ours,” Wrenn said.
Crest only threw the ball only three times, completing two of the passes thrown to receiver Aaron Haynes for 36 yards. The Poets were committed to running the ball all night as they also got 33 yards from fullback Charles Brown and 28 yards from tight end Ernest Hawkins, who was lined up in one of the pistol back spots in the new formation.
The pistol formation is a variation of the shotgun offense, where the quarterback lines up roughly four yards behind center as opposed to seven. A running back—McManus in this case—then lines up three yards behind the quarterback. It looks like a combination of the I-form and shotgun looks.
Dunbar’s variation put two backs side-by-side next to Crest to help pave the way for McManus, and to occasionally take carries themselves.
The pistol formation was developed at the University of Nevada by Chris Ault in 2004 as a way to add a power running game to the spread offense, which is based on reads in the option game while using the entire width of the field in the passing game.
Dunbar’s version of the pistol formation was solely used to implement power runs. And though the Poets lost, it was a bright spot since it looks to be something they can turn to for the remainder of the season.
“We knew we could use that to beat them up,” Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said. “We pushed them up and down the field.”
by Jason Butt