The Aggies led Sulligent by only two points at halftime. The Aggies adjusted in the second half and left their spread offense, going predominantly wishbone. The move catapulted them to a 43-23 win.
One didn’t work. They changed to the other.
Pretty simple, huh?
Well, whether the process of it all was or wasn’t, at the heart of it, the Aggies’ change was simpler than strapping on a helmet. For the Aggies, different is normal.
While the spread and the wishbone are on complete opposite ends of the offensive spectrum, the Aggies have mastered both this season. And truth be told, everything in between.
While many teams say they’re multiple, the Aggies are multiple to the point they send writers to thesauruses to look up a better word.
“Oh, we probably give teams, um, about 12-15 different looks,” said Lineville coach Steve Giddens, who then rattled off just more than a dozen of his team’s different formations. “It sounds like when you say 12-15, it’s a little bit overwhelming. Really, the way it’s done, our guys understand it.”
And the Aggies understand that it could take every single one of those formations tonight.
Lineville (10-3) faces off against Reeltown (12-1) with a berth to the Class 2A state finals on the line. The two teams met in Week 9 with the Aggies falling to the defending state champions 6-5.
With the ever-changing offense, Giddens takes little credit for the massive undertaking of focusing teenage minds to learn each formation’s different nuances. He’s insistent that credit goes to his longtime offensive coordinator Tim Pilkington and his other assistants.
“Coach P does a good job getting in a lot of different formations and keeping it sound and simple for the guys to understand,” Giddens said.
But the story of it all isn’t simple.
It’s a long winding story that takes the Aggies all the way back to last season when standout back Jonathan Glenn went down with a season-ending injury.
Glenn was a go-to back that Lineville had planned to use to go to the deepest depths of the playoffs.
Had the injury happened late in the season, Giddens said, things might have all turned out differently. The Aggies could have panicked. They could have still been feeling sorry for themselves in the early rounds of the playoffs or could have been without enough time to adjust to the plot twist.
Instead, with its timing, a silver lining emerged.
“It’s certainly paid off because it’s helped some other people to be discovered,” Giddens said. “ … It forced us to throw the ball and go to the spread, and it gave us experience to what we’re doing this year.”
Among the stars to step up in Glenn’s absence last season was Daniel Staples. The senior proved he could be a playmaker last season, and this season has turned into a force.
He currently leads a stable of Lineville backs with 825 yards and 12 touchdowns on 87 carries. Two other backs, Curtis Hunter and Demetrius Lindsey, have more than 700 yards apiece.
Lindsey, who is the quarterback, has also thrown for more than 1,300 yards.
And then there’s Glenn, who has been hurt this season, too. Back healthy, he led the Aggies against Sulligent with six carries for 73 yards.
While none as catastrophic as Glenn going down in 2009, injuries have continued to haunt the Aggies. Giddens said that for every game this season at least one starter has been injured and unable to play.
But again, Giddens find the good in working through the adversity noting it has made the Aggies players more versatile because of having to fill in at vacant positions. And again, Giddens deflects the praise away from himself.
“It’s Coach P and coach (Joby) Burns, coach (Michael) Anderson …,” Giddens said. “With all these different people in and out of the lineup, they made it work. They work real hard and watch a lot of film.
“You just don’t sneak somebody out there, you have to work with it.”
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.