Playoff Pointers: Cypress Park runs military academy style offense

Cypress Park’s offense will provide a look that is unfamiliar to the Wildcats in 2020

Wildcat+players%2C+staff+members+and+athletic+trainers+sway+together+after+cinching+the+15-6A+district+title.+Wildcats+look+to+continue+their+nine-game+winning+streak+on+Thursday

Chris Kibler

Wildcat players, staff members and athletic trainers sway together after cinching the 15-6A district title. Wildcats look to continue their nine-game winning streak on Thursday

Adeen Rao, Staff Writer

The Wildcats are set to battle the Cypress Park Tigers on Thursday in the first ever home playoff game in school history.

Riding into the postseason undefeated, the Wildcats have frequently faced offenses that predicate themselves on running the modern Run-Pass-Option. The Tigers present a much more unique offense however, an offense which is a first for the Wildcats this season.

Cypress Park runs a triple option offense. Popularized by former Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, the offense has been widely known as a staple among the US Military Academy football programs. All three service academies in the top-tier of the NCAA — Army, Navy, and Air Force — run a triple option offense similar to the Tigers, mainly due to the offense relying strictly on athleticism to run the football, basically eliminating the threat of the forward pass.

Just last year, the Wildcats head coach Sam Parker’s primary tailback Jorden Gidrey graduated and hit the road to Colorado Springs to play football for the Air Force Academy. Gidrey is a true freshman but has played some meaningful snaps running the triple option at the Division I level.

“The offense moves so fast once practiced well enough,” Gidrey said. “There are always three places the ball can end up.”

As is normal with the unique style of offense, the Tigers accumulate 80% of their total yardage on the run. The Tigers are not of the same pedigree as a college team though, which has prompted some deficiencies in their execution of the offense. They have fumbled the ball 37 times and have lost 15 fumbles respectively. Add their five interceptions so far this season, and you get a total of 20 turnovers, good for two turnovers per game.

Even though only 20% of the Tigers offense is generated by passing plays, don’t underestimate the threat of the pass in their scheme. The Tigers average 18.4 yards per reception, which ranks them in the Top 5 in Texas Division 6A in that category.

“In the triple option the threat of the pass is always there,” Gidrey said. “The pass is used as a surprise rather than a normal play.”

As has been the case all season, the Wildcats have dominated against teams that have given them short field position, as the Wildcats offense has the lowest scoring drive play total average in the entire state of Texas, at around 3.2 plays per scoring drive. If Cy Park continues their two turnovers per game seasonal pace in Thursday’s matchup they are in for a rough ride.

Defensively, the Tigers have forced quite a fair amount of turnovers this season, but most of those turnovers have come against teams below .500. Against teams with winning records, the Tigers have eight forced turnovers in four games, five of those coming in one game against Cypress Woods.

The best way to compare the Wildcats and the Tigers is through common opponents and performance against teams with similar pedigree. Cypress Park’s bouts with the Langham Creek Lobos and the Bridgeland Bears fit that criteria.

In the Creek game, the Tigers won 42-29 after being down 21-14 at half. On the other hand, the Wildcats beat the Lobos, albeit a very rusty Lobos squad, 55-7. To add insult to injury as far as this comparison is concerned, the Wildcats held the Lobos to below 10 points while the Lobos had their star quarterback Tanner Murray. Murray sustained an injury on the Lobos first drive of the game against the Tigers. I would be lying if I told you allowing 29 points to a sub-.500 team’s backup QB was a good look for the Tiger defense.

Against the Bears — who are one spot behind the Wildcats in Maxpreps.com’s Division 6A rankings — the Tigers sustained a 62-20 drubbing. QB Connor Weigman — who recently reeled in a fair share of D1 offers — had five touchdowns for the Bears, leading the Bears to a 491 yard offensive performance.

Reading beyond the lines, none of these stats account for energy. The occasion. A playoff game means there’s more adrenaline pumping than in your typical regular season game.This year’s Wildcats have the advantage in this department though, as they’ve seen playoff berths in all three of their years in 6A. However, don’t be surprised if the Tigers play with a more energetic than usual motor on Thursday.

Nonetheless, the Wildcats are heavily favored in this game for a reason. They are 9-0. They are ranked 12th in the top division of football in the most football-rich state. Expect this one to be a “where were you when it happened” kind of game.

PREDICTION: 59-34 Wildcats