BRISTOL - For many football teams, mastering an offense is a daunting task. With the wishbone offense that St. Paul runs, it is even more daunting, as the formation asks a lot more out of the players.
The wishbone formation has a lengthy history and has been the formation that many great teams have found success with, especially in college football. Emory Ballard, while at the University of Texas, implemented it in 1968.
Since then many offensive schemes have formed, but for the St. Paul football team, the wishbone offense is the blueprint for their success in the upcoming season.
“I think we all love how physical the wishbone is,” Falcons lineman Dominic Aiello said. “We get to drive people back as linemen and have some fun.”
The formation takes a specific offensive line group. In order to run it successfully, the offensive linemen must feature strong athletic ability and strength to push down field, as it is more of a lateral run game.
On the offensive line for St. Paul, they lost two starters from last season and will be looking for production out of newcomers filling the void.
“The line is definitely one of the focal points in running the wishbone,” Falcons tailback Damien Rabis said. “That’s the most important part and we need people to step up in that position.”
The top newcomer at offensive line will be Ryan Parent.
A sophomore, Parent is one player the team believes can step up and replace some of the production from last season.
With this style of offense, the option is often used, and that means having an athletic quarterback. St. Paul quarterback Kevin Ashworth has the offense down and this offseason he has worked on certain aspects of his game to fine tune how his play style fits within it.
“Running the wishbone, I run the ball a lot. We run the option a lot so you’re constantly taking hits from linebackers and just a bunch of defensive backs,” Ashworth said. “I’ve been working to get stronger and bigger so I can play through all those hits.”
Although it is a challenging offense, it is one that can give a team an edge on the outside and open up passing options down the field with the defense keying in on the run.
With St. Paul’s athleticism, it will use the run game to open up passing opportunities for Ashworth.
The athleticism doesn’t present as much of a challenge as the stamina needed to run this style does.
“We really have to have that toughness to push ourselves through the rest of the game and have that grit to want to be tougher than the opponent across from us,” Ashworth said.
Running backs Rabis and Dionne bring two different styles to the offense. Rabis is a speed back for the Falcons and Dionne is more of a power runner.
In the first game of the season on the road against Sacred Heart, the wishbone will be on display and so will the new look offensive line.