Lions adapting to new offense as summer football work commences
Beginning at 6:30 a.m. each of the past four days, Lawrence High’s football players launched into a crash course in head coach Steve Rampy’s offense.
Sure, the Lions got to know Rampy a little over the past several months, as the former Pittsburg State offensive coordinator visited LHS two to three days a week during the spring semester. But this was the first official week of summer vacation and the Lions’ initial chance to learn all the finer details that go into the offense their new head coach is installing.
“The defense has been pretty standard,” senior Caleb Mondi explained. “We’ve ran it before so we’re kind of used to it. But the offense is completely new.”
It’s just different enough from what the Lions ran under newly-retired head coach Dirk Wedd that Rampy’s offense even added a position not seen around LHS in some time: tight end.
“None of us know what we’re doing,” said Mondi, an experienced linebacker and new tight end. “That’s been the hardest part probably, because we’ve never run a tight end offense either. And we’re just getting all the stuff we need to know down.”
Indeed, when describing how his LHS offense will look different this coming fall, Rampy begins with tight ends.
“Whether we have them or not we’re gonna make them. It’s an important part of our offense,” the first-year Lions coach said. “Fortunately we have some guys that I think can be really, really fine high school tight ends.”
Lawrence won’t line up in four-receiver sets nearly as often as it did in the past.
“So structurally it’ll be a little different,” Rampy added. “Schematically it might not be much different.”
That comes as welcome news to the Lions, because another offensive element they’ll have to perfect is picking up signals at the line of scrimmage prior to each snap.
After three days of learning plays, Rampy just began Friday signaling in calls. Senior offensive tackle Bryce Tibke described it as a “big difference” from the old approach.
“Every little detail we have a signal for,” Tibke said. “Last year we had a few signals that meant different things.”
The Lions expect the more repetitions they have picking up signals in the coming weeks the more engrained they will become.
“We just got introduced to it today,” Tibke said. “So Monday and Tuesday at KU camp we’ll get a lot more reps and get used to it.”
Rampy knows the upcoming contact camp at the University of Kansas, as well as other scrimmage situations on the docket for June, will be crucial as the Lions adjust.
“We’ve got to take baby steps. We’re not worried about outcomes,” he stressed. “We’re worried about the process.”
The new coach thinks he can trust some of the program’s veterans, such as Tibke and Mondi, to help the transition along, particularly because the Lions could end up relying a lot on underclassmen.
“It’s a tremendous sophomore class. They’re a really, really talented group, so we know some of those guys are going to have to play on Friday nights for us,” Rampy said. “That’s why June is so important.”
According to Mondi, LHS sophomores have acclimated themselves quickly, and Devin Neal stood out this week.
“He was really quick to the ball, really fast,” Mondi said of Neal. “He’s going to be a really good player for us this year.”