Park City football camp spreads the love
One night, a few years ago, Kai Smalley had a nightmare.
The star of that frightening dream was Cory McCaffrey, a 5-foot-9 terror.
At the time, Smalley, who is now entering his third year as head coach of the Park City High School football program, was a defensive coordinator at Marist Catholic High School in Eugene, Ore. McCaffrey had dominated Marist in their previous meetings. In three seasons as a star at Sisters High School in Oregon, McCaffrey ran for 8,460 yards. In one meeting against Smalley’s defense, he ran for 417 yards.
"I literally had a nightmare about him before our season started," Park City’s head coach recalled, still in awe of the former Portland State University running back.
One of the ways Marist could keep up with McCaffrey was to simply outscore him. In the 2007 state championship game, it was Smalley’s defense and Marist’s air-raid attack that allowed them to move past McCaffrey and Sisters, 36-28.
If Smalley learned anything during his time dealing with the Oregon prep star, it was this: Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. That’s where he picked up his variation of the spread defense, a style of offense developed by various offensive minds such as Mike Leach, Hal Mumme and Tony Franklin.
It was Marist’s head coach at the time, Rory Rosenbach, a former University of Oregon player, like Smalley, who decided to take a dive into the spread-offense pool. Rosenbach, now the head coach at Glacier Peak High School near Seattle, Wash., brought five of his offensive staffers to Park City this week for the 2012 Fastbreak Football Camp at Park City High School.
The goal? To continue to hammer the fundamentals of the fast-paced offense into the minds of this year’s Park City Miners.
Rosenbach, who spent three years playing at the Air Force Academy before transferring to Oregon, said the spread formation can be related to any style of offense.
"It’s a system," he said. "It’s not the option, but it’s a different way of getting repetition and attacking. It’s about, ‘What’s the next thing you’re going to do?’ You always have to be on the cutting edge of what you want to do in order to be ahead of everyone else."
The relationship between Rosenbach and Smalley dates to 2003 when they were assistants at Thurston High School in Oregon. When Rosenbach was hired as the head coach at Marist, he brought the young Smalley with him. Since then, the two have become close friends. Rosenbach is the godfather to Smalley’s young daughter and the two talk on the phone almost daily.
"I think the best thing about Kai is he has a willingness to adapt," he said. "You have to be willing to do that. If you don’t do that, you’re going to get caught and going to get beat."
Unlike a typical Park City practice, which usually features Smalley’s rousing voice, Smalley sat back and listened this week.
This week, it was Rosenbach, a tall, imposing man sporting a straw hat, who still looks like he could block a ferocious pass rusher leading the charge.
"The two main things we want to hammer down with these guys is fundamentals and details," he said. "Do not get bored with it. And go fast. With tempo, you have to go fast, have energy, be ready and be ready to be in their face."
This is Rosenbach’s second trip to Park City for a summer camp, and Smalley said he enjoys being a spectator, watching his close friend work with his players.
"The biggest thing for me is they’re getting somebody reinforcing what we coach them," he said. "It makes things more efficient. It’s nice to sit back and watch somebody else do it because you learn."
The players broke up into offense groups and marched the length of the field, executing different play calls at different times until the final group crossed the north end zone at Dozier Field. At the forefront was Rosenbach, who was shouting out plays. Standing near the end zone, acting as a defender, was Smalley.
It’s safe to say Smalley no longer has those nightmares.
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