SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports Special

September 5, 2013

Pingree wants to ratchet up its high-tempo offense

The Pingree football team pushed the tempo with its hurry-up offense last season.

This fall, the Highlanders will look to push it a little bit more.

“We’ll have multiple speeds of our no-huddle offense,” said Pingree head coach Chris Powers. “Traditionally we would get to the line, wait, read the defense and go. Now, we also have like an Oregon style hurry-up where we’ll try to get as many plays off as possible to control the tempo in our favor.”

Speed looks to be plentiful for the Highlanders. Sticking with the Oregon comparison, the Highlanders have their own version of De’Anthony Thomas in tailback and defensive back Johnny Spears, who had a school record 18 touchdowns in just six games last year as a junior.

The Highlanders have even more speed in the backfield with junior Sal Fazio, who got some experience last year as a sophomore. Outside wideouts Justin Assad (a sophomore) and Alex Salalayko (a senior captain) are both burners who saw significant time last season.

“We emphasize it all the time: speed is everything. We put a lot of time into it and making sure we’re physically able to run the up-tempo game,” said Powers.

“Johnny looks great. He worked out all summer and put on some pounds, which will only help him. Sal is just as quick and is built similar, and Assad at 6-foot-4 is one of the fastest guys on our team.”

Senior captain Will Ager anchors an offensive line that returns mostly intact.

The one big position up for grabs is quarterback as senior Rob VanTuyl and sophomore Griffin Beal are battling for the starter’s spot.

“Rob and Griffin are both unique talents but are very different,” said Powers. “Rob is steady and makes all the right decisions, where Griffin is more of a raw athlete who has a lot of talent and probably has some maturity to go through. I don’t think we could go wrong with either one of them.”

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