Compton coach Calvin Bryant cut his teeth running the double-wing with the Tarbabes in the mid-2000s, and he began his second stint at the school in 2015 doing the same.
But for much of the first half of Compton’s 41-0 season-opening win over Compton Centennial on Friday, the Tarbabes operated out of the shotgun. And by the end of the game, quarterbacks William Wilson Jr. and Jesse Brew had thrown 15 passes.
“We threw the ball probably more than we did all year last year,” Bryant joked.
The Tarbabes were still run-heavy — gaining 315 yards and scoring all six of their touchdowns on the ground — and relied on the double-wing as the running clock ticked down in the second half, but expect to continue to use a more balanced offense in 2018, Bryant said.
“We threw almost 50 times in passing league,” Bryant said. “We wanted to see if we could do what we’ve been doing. We’ve always been efficient at running the ball, so we wanted to try something else.”
It helped that Compton was playing an overmatched Centennial team. The Apaches managed just three yards of offense and one first down in the first half, and struggled to stop the Tarbabes’ playmakers on offense.
Senior running backs Terrence Pratt and Niles Hibbert combined for 194 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Hibbert had the biggest play of the day with a 55-yard score midway through the second quarter.
“First off, great job to my linemen,” Hibbert said, describing the play. “Then I saw [Pratt] as the lead blocker, and I saw the defender so I just cut outside and scored.”
The Tarbabes jumped to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter with short touchdown runs from Wilson Jr. and running back Jaheim Williams. Hibbert and Brew scored on the ground in the second half to put Compton up 28-0.
Bryant’s offense produced mixed results when it took to the air. Wilson Jr. and Brew split snaps about evenly — because they play both ways, Bryant wants them to both get as many reps as possible in case of an injury — and combined to go 8-for-15 for 77 yards.
“We’re trying to spread the ball around,” Bryant said. “We did some things that we normally don’t do, so we had some hiccups, but for the most part our guys showed they can do it.”
On defense, the Tarbabes suffocated the Apaches offense, forcing three turnovers and pitching a shutout.
That allowed Bryant the room he needed to experiment offensively. It wasn’t always pretty, with some fumbled handoffs and wayward pitches, but it accomplished what Bryant set out to do, and picked up a lopsided victory along the way, the first step to what could be the most successful season of Bryant’s second tenure at Compton.
“It’s just a confidence builder,” Bryant said. “We’re just excited about doing some new things, along with what we do already, so it gives us more of another weapon.”