After advancing to the Class 7A region final against Lakeland in his first season, Gaither football coach Jason Stokes has decided to change his offensive philosophy.
Or, perhaps more accurately, “flex” it a bit.
By hiring former Tampa Bay Tech and Lennard offensive coordinator Daryl Stewart, Stokes has brought option football to Gaither. Look for the Cowboys to line up in the flexbone formation next season, with rising junior quarterback Alex McGough under center, a fullback behind him, and two slotbacks on either side.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the option,” Stokes said. “It’s just a system that no matter what you have in place, you’ll have halfway decent backs but may not always be blessed with great quarterback. Hopefully we’ll be good enough personnel judges to plug guys into position.
It won’t be pure option football, we’ll still have a mix of passing plays and regular running plays, but that option element will keep teams honest.”
Gaither will rotate rising seniors Shug Oyegunle (64 carries, 481 yards last season), Tampa Catholic transfer Jordan Rich-Rogers (97 carries, 689 yards), Jamari Cord (24 carries, 161 yards) and Vu Le (22, 108 yards) in the running back positions. McGough, who Stokes views as athletic enough to run the option, was 42-of-86 for 633 passing yards last season and rushed for 108 yards on 39 carries.
Stokes took over the Cowboys’ offense after dismissing his co-offensive coordinators following their first regular-season game, a loss to Alonso. Gaither (9-4) went on to upset both Durant and Tampa Bay Tech in the playoffs before falling 42-14 at Lakeland.
(photo: junior Shug Oyegunle led the Cowboys with 481 rushing yards last season -- a number that's likely to increase thanks to a change in offensive philosphy.)