Brace yourselves, football fans. Are you sitting down for this?
They’re running a spread offense this season at Charlotte Catholic.
OK, so it’s not a pass-every-play type of offense with receivers running all over the place. But head coach Mike Brodowicz is mixing a spread attack with the Catholic offense you’ve known for so many years — the wishbone-style ground game.
It was all on display Friday night, as the sixth-ranked Cougars ran past neighborhood rival South Mecklenburg 41-26 in the Battle of Park Road.
“We’re mixing things up,” Brodowicz said, with a bit of glee in his voice. “If you stack the box against us, we’ll be able to spread it out. And we’re working more things into the offense. This was just the first game.”
Naturally, the Cougars have a running back who dominated the game.
Senior Griffin Sovine carried 20 times for 175 yards and scored Charlotte Catholic’s first four touchdowns.
But senior quarterback Sean Boyle went to the air 14 times – an air-raid offense, by Charlotte Catholic standards – and completed 12 of those passes for 136 yards.
Four Cougars had receptions, and several others were targeted.
“We’ve got the personnel capable of doing this,” Brodowicz said. “We have a college-level quarterback, and we have a tight end (junior Jack Larsen) who was recruited by Alabama and everyone else, and ended up choosing Notre Dame.”
“We won’t be afraid to switch our styles,” he added.
On Friday night, the Cougars looked very much like a team with 10 returning starters on offense and only two on defense.
South Mecklenburg quarterback Cam Reese threw for more than 200 yards and completed a couple of long passes when his receivers got past inexperienced Cougar defenders.
His passing kept the Sabres in the game for much of the first half, and South Mecklenburg trailed only trailed only 28-19 after three quarters.
“We knew we’d be young on defense, and that would affect us early in the season,” Brodowicz said. “But I think we’ll get a lot stronger as the season goes on.”
Then again, who needs defense when your offense scored almost every time it gets the ball.
The Cougars scored on six of their first seven possessions, missing a perfect score only due to a field goal that went wide-left in the second quarter. Charlotte Catholic punted only once – in the closing minutes of the game, with reserves on the field.
Brodowicz talked about his offense’s many different strike capabilities, but eventually the topic came back to Sovine, the running back.
“He had 45 carries for 249 yards against Marvin Ridge in our playoff loss last year,” the Cougars’ head coach said. “We knew he was someone we could build around. He runs hard, and he’s fast. He benches 310 pounds.”
“But don’t defend us by trying to shut him down. We have a lot of other things we can do.”
Three who made a difference
Griffin Sovine, Charlotte Catholic: Sovine ran 20 times for 175 yards and four touchdowns, and only a handful of his runs were for less than 7 or 8 yards.
Cam Reese, South Mecklenburg: The Sabres lost much of their stout defense from a year ago, but Reese gives them a real threat offensively, especially with a crew of speedy receivers. He completed 15 of 24 passes Friday for 203 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
Jack Larsen, Charlotte Catholic: Larsen, a junior who has committed to Notre Dame, was double-teamed much of the night but still caught six passes for 73 yards.
▪ The Cougars have more than a powerful offense. Their special teams also are strong, especially in kick returns. Kick returners Ethan Ellis and Web Helms each returned two kickoffs for 30 or more yards, giving their team good field position on several possessions.
▪ Offensive linemen don’t get a lot of credit, so here’s a tip of the hat to Charlotte Catholic’s line of Jacob Segarra, Jackson Gagnon, Michael Egan, Conor Maguire and Clinton Barlow. Their blocking allowed the Cougars to run for 296 yards, and they prevented quarterback Sean Boyle from being sacked.
▪ As might be expected for a neighborhood rivalry, the game got a bit chippy. One player from each team was ejected for an altercation in the third quarter, and Charlotte Catholic was hit with 10 penalties. South Mecklenburg had eight.
▪ Charlotte Catholic finished with 432 yards’ total offense, to 293 for South Mecklenburg. There was only one turnover in the game – Cougar Joey Hall’s pick of a Reese pass in the fourth quarter.
Charlotte Catholic travels to Hickory Ridge next Friday. South Mecklenburg is home against another southeast Charlotte rival – Providence.
South Mecklenburg 6 7 6 7 – 26
Charlotte Catholic 7 14 7 13 – 41
CC – Griffin Sovine 8 run (Jack Rouse kick)
SM – Michael Nesbit 8 pass from Cam Reese (kick blocked)
CC – Sovine 3 run (Rouse kick)
SM – Reese 2 run (Laird Johnson kick)
CC – Sovine 6 run (Rouse kick)
CC – Sovine 1 run (Rouse kick)
SM – Brock Rismiller 5 pass from Reese (kick blocked)
CC – Mikey Giroux 4 run (kick failed)
CC – Ethan Ellis 47 run (Rouse kick)
SM – Cash Hunter 4 run (Johnson kick)