Carter settling in to new team
Coming off an appearance in the state championship game, most teams don’t need to change a whole lot, but Washington football might look a bit different on the gridiron at the end of August.
Following the retirement of Randy Shrader, the reins of the Demon football program were handed to Garrison Carter, who led Ogden to a state quarterfinal last season.
Last season, the Demons were virtually unstoppable on the ground. They led 3A in rushing offense, averaging 7.3 yards per carry, but with three all-state running backs now graduated, the makeup of the team will change a bit.
“We led the state in rushing last year, so people will say not to change things, but we also graduated three all-state running backs,” Carter said. “Just like that, it changes the face of your team. Defensively we’ll be exactly the same. They had one of the best defenses in the state last year, so why change that? Offensively, the running game will stay pretty much the same, and we added a few of my run blocking schemes as well to blend those together. The things that are going to change are in the passing game.”
Despite the changes, Carter isn’t planning on abandoning the running game. Last season in Ogden, his team was nearly as balanced as could be, passing for 2,131 yards, while running for 2,212 yards at a rate of 5.6 yards per carry.
“We are still a run first team and remain focused on what our identity is, but we have talented receivers and one of the best quarterbacks around (in Daryn Seibelius). Walking in, you have a guy who isn’t only in place, but has started since he was a sophomore. He’s not only a talented kid, but he’s the man. He does things the right way. He’s the first one to every practice and wants to throw extra. It’s not an accident that he’s successful.”
Seibelius, who tossed 13 touchdowns last season, will be the caretaker of the offense this season. He was also the second leading rusher on the team, running for 774 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Practice isn’t really different, but the atmosphere is different,” Seibelius said, “going from coach Shrader, who has been coaching for 30-some years, and then coach Carter, who hasn’t been coaching too long, so it feels different.”
Slipping right into the Washington atmosphere was pretty easy for Carter, who knew he wanted to be in Washington, even before his interview.
“When I came over to interview, the night before I had met with coach Shrader,” Carter said. “I knew right then that this was the place to be. We saw eye-to-eye on how a program should be run. Being a head football coach is very little about X’s and O’s. In offensive philosophy we might vary a bit, but that’s just a small piece of the puzzle. In terms of teaching kids to do the right things, running the program, being organized, being community first, we agreed on those things.”
As far as teaching those X’s and O’s, Carter has been here over the summer running seven-on-seven drills most Sundays, as well as getting to know his athletes through weightlifting and working with the kids throughout the summer in their position groups.
“I’ve seen these kids working all summer, so we aren’t starting from square one,” Carter said. “The other thing that is really nice is that we have eight assistant coaches returning. They understand what we want to do and how we want to run things, so the transition has been really smooth.”
With the passing game figuring to open up a bit more, there will be a wider range of players getting touches on the ball throughout the game, leading to more weapons for a talented Demon offense.
“You are going to see some kids shine for us this year catching the ball,” Carter said. “Thomas Bump as a tight end last year was under-utilized, and he’ll get some more attention, and then I think we’ll have a couple guys competing to be running backs. Gage Redlinger didn’t catch a ton of passes last year, but when he did, he was really effective.”
Redlinger (5 catches, 153 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Bump (9 catches, 127 yards, 2 touchdowns) are the two leading returning receivers from last year’s team.
Carter isn’t unfamiliar with the area, having graduated from Centerville high school, and attended Simpson College before starting his coaching career. That familiarity helped make his decision to come to Washington that much easier.
“It’s a whirlwind because it’s a new teaching job, coaching job, buying a house and moving,” Carter said. “One thing that drew me to Washington was that it feels like home to me. It’s close to where I came from, it’s close to family, and so settling down here has been easy. The first two schools I was at for two years at a time, and I’m tired of moving. I feel like I can be here for a long time.”