ROCKWALL - If it was good enough for the Sugar Land Express …
Kenneth Hall rewrote the high school football record book in the 1950s. Nearly 70 years have passed and many of his rushing records still stand.
Hall did all of this out of the single-wing formation - a football offense that has been pretty much obsolete in Texas for decades.
Well, Rockwall-Heath is 2-1, averaging 327 yards per game and doing it all out of a single-wing.
Robert E. Lee will get a firsthand look at that offense Friday when the Red Raiders face Heath at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. in the District 11-6A opener for both teams.
They have had a complete change in offensive philosophy, and what they are doing now, they are doing well," Lee coach Clayton George said about the Hawks. "They will mix in a pass every now and then to keep you honest, but we will have to be disciplined with our run keys and run fits and play really disciplined football with that type of offense that we are facing this week."
Heath tailback/wingback J'Corian Jimmerson leads his team with 51 carries for 358 yards and four touchdowns. Grant Buckholt is listed as the quarterback, but has only attempted seven passes in three games. He is second on the team with 189 yards rushing and three scores. All told, Heath has five ball carriers with 100 yards or more.
"They have a lot of kids back from their team last year on the offensive side of the ball and they've been able to adapt to this offense and do a really good job of executing it," George said. "They've taken what their opponents give them, have moved the chains and been able to keep the opposing offense off the field."
The Red Raiders counter with a rush defense that before last week hadn't given up much of anything. In their wins over Marshall and Corsicana, two teams that employ run-first offenses, REL allowed a combined 90 yards rushing. Last week against Nacogdoches, REL surrendered big plays of 24, 27 and 58 yards as part of allowing the Dragons to rush for 216 yards.
"The first half on the big long runs they had it was more of a breakdown in some areas on defense that our coaches and players fixed," George said. "Once we got those areas fixed, in the second half they didn't have any (running plays) like that."
The Red Raiders surrendered just 52 yards in the second half. George said Heath's offense bring with it an altogether different challenge because of unfamiliarity.
"We haven't faced this kind of offense in a long time, so you have to go back you your basics of teaching and making sure everybody does their job," George said. "If everybody does their job, you will be in position to make plays, but you've got to be disciplined when facing this type of offense."
Powering Lee's offense is junior quarterback Chance Amie, who through three games, has already amassed 467 yards rushing and six touchdowns to go with completing 21 of 43 passes for 302 yards and three scores. Sophomore LaDarius Wickware delivered a huge 200-yard rushing effort in Lee's season-opening win over Marshall, but has since been "banged up a little" and playing through it. He, Amie and fellow sophomores Jordan Printers and Donerick McCray have combined to rush for 954 yards through three games.
Heath's defense allowed Wylie East to rush for 287 yards in its lone loss. In its two victories over West Mesquite and Irving MacArthur, Heath gave up a combined 203 yards on the ground.
"They play a lot of quarter halves and some old school cover-2," George said of Heath's defensive look. "We're like what we are every week. We are going to take what the defense gives us and proceed forward once the game starts."
Robert E. Lee Red Raiders at Rockwall-Heath Hawks
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium, Rockwall
Radio: ESPN East Texas 92.1-FM, Tyler
Records: Robert E. Lee 2-1; Rockwall-Heath 2-1
Last Week's Results: Nacogdoches 24, Robert E. Lee 17; Rockwall-Heath 63, Irving MacArthur 7
Last Year: Did not play
All-Time Series: Heath leads 2-0
Players to Watch: Robert E. Lee - QB Chance Amie; DL Nathan Niedrauer; LB David Antunez
Quick Slant: The Red Raiders open District 11-6A play on the road, and history has proven favorable for REL when it wins its league opener. In the past 10 years, REL has reached the playoffs in six of them. In five of those six years, Lee won its district opener. Heath has been a spread team for years, including last year when the Hawks made the playoffs while passing for 1,457 yards and 10 TDs to go with a strong running game. Not this year. In three games Heath has attempted nine passes total for 39 yards. The Red Raiders forced Corsicana to abandon its running game in Week 2 and it remains to be seen whether REL will be able to force Heath to have to put the ball in the air. One thing that will be paramount for the Red Raiders is to score when they have the ball because Heath's offense main mission is to churn up yards and score points and run out the clock while doing it.
Quotable: - "We are going to have to execute offensively and take what they give us, but also produce. Defensively we have to play disciplined and force some three and outs and force them to get behind the chains. I look forward to us playing a great game of all three phases, playing winning football." - REL coach Clayton George.
Stadium Address: 1201 T L Townsend Dr, Rockwall
Next Up: Longview at Lee, Friday, Sept. 23; Rockwall Heath vs. Rockwall, Friday, Sept. 23