The football rivalry between Hillsborough and Chamberlain goes deep. The Central Tampa border war dates to 1956, when Chamberlain opened its doors and took students from Hillsborough, the city's largest school. Chamberlain coach Billy Turner, the county's all-time wins leader in his 30th season coaching the Chiefs, was Hillsborough's head coach through most of the '70s and hired current Terriers coach Earl Garcia as an assistant.
As they meet again tonight at Chelo Huerta Field tonight, the teams are winning different in ways — Hillsborough through its most balanced offense ever under Garcia, and Chamberlain with a triple-option attack adopted after last year's meeting with the Terriers.
Ask both Garcia and Turner, and before last Friday neither could tell you the last time Hillsborough had a quarterback pass for 300 yards in a game. That was the day Terriers junior quarterback Tarean Austin threw for 317 yards in Hillsborough's 41-14 win over Alonso.
Garcia believed early on that combining Austin with speedy pass catchers Charles Lovett, Lindsey Lamar, Colby Walden and Terrence Mitchell would give him his best air attack since arriving at Hillsborough.
Last year, Garcia said his offense was about 75 percent dedicated to the run, with Austin averaging about 12 passes. Last Friday, Austin threw 20. Through three quarters last week — before Garcia put in some younger players with the game in hand — Garcia said his offensive plays were an even 50-50.
"When you're a team that's one-dimensional you practice just that, so you get pretty good at it," Garcia said. "And when it comes down to try to do the other it's not very good usually."
Turner describes Chamberlain's triple-option offense as "an equalizer." The scheme is a page taken out of the Georgia Southern offenses that dominated Division I-AA and have returned to the mainstream thanks to Paul Johnson, the new Georgia Tech coach and former coach at Georgia Southern.
The Chiefs offense, directed by hard-running quarterback Dontae Aycock and aided by running back Kenny Allen, has produced more than 220 yards rushing in each of the first two weeks. While Chamberlain has yet to establish its passing game, Turner is satisfied with the way the option has worked. It keeps the ball in the offense's hands and tends to wear down a defense.
"We have a number in our head of how many passing plays we'd like to run, but it's not something that's a rule," Turner said. "We're going to keep doing what we do.
"Nobody has really stopped us yet."
Though designed after the Georgia Southern model, Chamberlain's option offers some wrinkles, which include occasional passing on first down and working out of spread formations.