Chris Schluter took inventory after one year of coaching and found some changes needed to be made.
The results are dramatic. Diller-Odell, which went 1-7 last year, has opened the season with a 3-0 mark.
“Going into my second year, I decided I had to evaluate what I did — what personnel we had and what kind of offense and defense we wanted to run,” said Schluter. “Last year, we game-planned a defense each week. We’d run a four-man front one week and the next week, we’d run a three-man front. This year, we’re sticking to the same thing, a 3-3, so the kids get comfortable with it.
“The offense stayed mostly the same. Some motion, get outside, run up the middle. We haven’t passed a lot. We worked on that this week and want to get that going.”
Last week, the Griffins needed some fourth-quarter magic to keep the perfect record intact. Diller-Odell scored 24 fourth-quarter points for a 39-30 win over Johnson-Brock. This week, the Griffins play host to Class D-2 third-ranked Falls City Sacred Heart in a district contest.
“This is the first time Diller-Odell has been 3-0 in a long while,” said Schluter. The Griffins started the 2004 season with three straight wins before losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Howells. “We have a tough test coming up. But to be 3-0 going to Sacred Heart is a big deal.”
This year’s team returned just four starters, but Schluter had an idea this squad could have success.
“We want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. And we didn’t want to just sneak in. We have pretty lofty goals for a team that went 1-7,” he said. “We think maybe we could go 8-0 and not be a 16th seed that gets rolled over by one of the best teams in the state.”
With nine seniors and no juniors, the Griffins are relying on a strong sophomore class, including running back Ely Hroch (pronounced Rock), who ran for 287 yards in the win over Johnson-Brock. Senior fullback Jerrico Allen added 30 yards and some crucial blocking.
“Ely ran it 35 times and he wants the ball. But I didn’t think we would do that to him. We’d like to get him about 10 less carries,” said Schluter. “But he got some good breaks on defense. We had some kids step in on defense for him and give him a rest.
“When we needed extra energy, we got it from Jerrico. He wants to run straight ahead and knock someone over. That’s why he’s so good at fullback.”