August 17, 2017 10:41:29 AM
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter loves defenses.
But the Noxubee County High School football coach can't help but smile when asked about the state of his team's offense prior to its season opener against Starkville at 7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium in Macon. Defenses usually are ahead of offenses at this point in the marathon, but Shorter's smile indicates the offense is further along down the road entering its first game.
"I am surprised where we are offensively," Shorter said. "They still have some learning to do, but we still haven't put a whole bunch of stuff we're going to put in. They are starting to get a grasp of what we're trying to do offensively, and I like where we are.
"It seems like our offense is ahead of the defense, but I don't think that is the case. Saturday we played a good football team. Callaway is No. 2 in Class 5A (according to The Clarion-Ledger). They have a good football team. They have good skills guys and are big. They just made some plays. It wasn't so much what Callaway did. We were just out of position and missed tackles. The things we did defensively can be corrected, and we're going to have to correct it Friday night."
Noxubee County hung on for a 20-12 victory against Callaway in the New Hope Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. The win was the first for new Noxubee County High co-offensive coordinators Teddy Young and John Sallis. Young is a former wide received at Noxubee County High. He was a part of the football team that won the 2008 Class 4A State title. Sallis, who also will coach the offensive line, is a former coach at Leake Central.
Young worked under former offensive coordinator James Patterson, who died March 18 after a battle with cancer. Patterson was 61. He coached at Noxubee County High for 37 years and had an association with Shorter for 18 years.
Shorter said in the preseason he felt "blessed" to have brought in so many talented coaches. Sallis replaces Michael Ashford, who left to become head coach at Jackson Lanier. Shorter said both coaches have worked well together to bring new things to the offense.
"Our offense has totally changed from coach Patterson and coach Ashford," Shorter said. "We still have some of the same route trees we have been doing. People look at us and think we are a zone team, but we are not. We are still a power running football team. We are just coming out of a gun more."
Shorter said he wanted to keep some of what the Tigers did under coach Patterson and be flexible to incorporate some of the things Sallis did at Leake Central. He said one of the biggest differences this season will be implementing zone-type stuff into the power run philosophy. Shorter said the Tigers expect to have their quarterback more involved in the running game.
"We have the talent," Shorter said. "We have two quarterbacks (junior Maliek Stallings and senior Armoni Clark) who can run the football. As a defensive coordinator, I hate to see a running quarterback. It makes us that much better and that much more explosive and harder to prepare for."
Shorter said in the preseason Noxubee County plans to have Stallings and Clark on the field as much as possible because they can contribute in a variety of ways. He also said Young will have a big say in calling the plays. The former wide receiver played a key role in the Tigers' first state title. Back then, Noxubee County was known more for its willingness to sling the ball all over the field. Shorter, a former defensive back, smiled when asked if he wondered if Young would come out and opt to throw the ball all over the place.
"If I don't pull the reins back I think he will throw it every down," said Shorter, who signed a football scholarship to play at Alcorn State out of Port Gibson High. He spent two seasons at Hinds Community College before transferring to Austin Peay. He was invited to the San Diego Chargers' training camp in 1996 and made the practice squad before he was hurt. He then spent a year playing football (defensive back) in Canada (1997) before he returned to Mississippi. "He is a young guy and he is going to be a great one. You bring in a guy like coach Sallis and they are jelling. I am tickled to death with how they have the offense.
"But they know my philosophy. I like to be balanced. You can't be one-dimensional. They both understand what I expect and what I want. I want to be balanced."
Shorter said he will give Young and Sallis the freedom to decide to do whatever it takes for the Tigers to win. He said he doesn't want to be a coach who tells his offensive coaches how to call plays. Shorter believes the maturation of the offensive line will play a key role in the Tigers' success because he feels his skill guys can match up with anybody.
"I want them to feel it," Shorter said, "and I trust both of those guys. I am going to stay out of their way."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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