COLE CAMP — When the Cole Camp Bluebirds break the huddle and get in formation, there’s not much mystery in what the play call is. The only question is which direction they’ll run toward.
Each play seems to mirror the previous one, but the Bluebirds have proved that it works.
The 2014 Bluebirds went 9-2, won the Kaysinger Conference title and won a district game.
A lot of that success can be credited to the team’s ability to run the football.
“I’d put our backfield up to anyone in our conference or our whole schedule,” said running back Brandon Thoennes. “I think we’re pretty solid.”
Thoennes returns as the top weapon for the Cole Camp offense. Austin Berendzen also comes back to run the football for the Bluebirds, but may also take snaps this season.
Berendzen and Nik Clifton are competing for the quarterback job, but whoever doesn’t take the snaps will likely get a fair share of carries in the backfield.
“We don’t really know,” said coach Kevin Shearer about who will be the quarterback. “We’ve got a competition going for that position. We have a senior in Nik Clifton who was our backup last year. He’s been with the program the whole time and has always had a strong arm.”
Of course, both may win the job. Shearer left the option open to use both under center during certain situations.
“Austin is going to be on the field in about every way possible,” he said. “Sometimes it will be at quarterback, sometimes it’ll be at running back, sometimes he’ll be a receiver. He’s not a very big guy, but he’s a good athlete.”
The fourth piece to the Cole Camp backfield puzzle is Adisen Harms, who’ll also be in the mix to run the ball.
“I think you guys will see big things out of him,” Shearer said. “He’s special athlete and I think he’s starting to come into his own.”
Out of the four, the clear consensus was that Thoennes is the top back and the leader that the backfield follows.
“I think we all do,” Clifton said. “I think that’s how we all want to be. We all just kind of follow Brandon. He’s a good leader. As much as he’s a good vocal leader, he also leads by example.”
Harms was quick to point out that Thoennes is the main piece of the puzzle.
“He just takes charge and gets everybody going,” he said.
Thoennes will be leading a backfield that has him and Berendzen being the most experienced on the field, but the chemistry is still strong with Harms and Clifton being added to the mix.
“We’ve been pretty good friends all this time and I think we work pretty well together,” Clifton said. “We have a good chemistry back there, so I think it will all work pretty well back there. It’s a pretty well-oiled machine back there.”
The machine may be well oiled, but Berendzen said they can still improve.
“I feel like our backfield should be better because we work every day for 30 minutes on the backs, just by ourselves,” he said. “Just conditioning, running through gauntlets, stuff like that.”
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.