Elgin to rely on new mindset and quarterback in 2016 - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Elgin to rely on new mindset and quarterback in 2016

ELGIN, OK (KSWO) - The Elgin Owls come into 2016 leaving behind a rather forgettable 2015. The team went a mere 3-7, missing the playoffs for a second straight year.

Head Coach Jason Cunningham feels the Owls could have been a more physical team, which has become a point of emphasis in practice.

“We didn't feel like we were physical enough last year,” states Cunningham. “And so through our offseason and spring football and the summer, we've just been preaching be physical be physical. And we really think it's made a difference and we got what we want.”

Elgin graduated 17 seniors, including starting quarterback Dylan Langford. Stepping into the spot is a newcomer to the football team, Noah Taiese. He comes to Elgin from Hawaii and has only been with the squad since February. After going through spring ball, he separated himself as an athlete ready to take on the role of starting quarterback.

“It's a lot of pressure on me. Because, I don't know, it's a new team for me because I came from Hawaii. So, it's a lot of pressure, but I'm willing to take on the responsibility and lead the team to victories,” says Taiese.

“We had video on him. We knew he was a good athlete and a good player. We just wanted him to learn our offense and get on board with our way of thinking. And he's done a great job, and we really feel like he's going to be a good player for us and he's really stepped up his leadership,” explains Cunningham.

Taiese will not only be a threat through the air, but also on the ground. His ability to run will feed into a downhill rushing attack that provides numerous options and should improve an offense that only scored about 14 points per game in 2015.

Taiese says, “The pass game is going to come easy, but we're focused on the run game because there's different people at every position. We move people. So, we're going to focus on that and it's become really good lately.”

“We feel like running the football gives us the best chance to win,” says Cunningham. “We have a lot of running backs. We have a lot of full backs. We go three deep, any of them can play. We got three tight ends and we feel like that gives us the best chance to win.”

Another area of improvement is the defense as a whole. In 2015, Elgin played a fairly young defense that included four sophomores. Coach Cunningham feels that experience gained will push his current group of talent to exceed many expectations.

“Outside linebacker Isaac Garrett started every game for us as a sophomore last year, now he's a junior. And he's 6'5", 200 pounds, so he's bigger and stronger and smarter,” explains Cunningham. “The D-Line, you know, we're bigger at D-Line than we were last year. The inside linebackers are bigger and we feel like we're bigger and more physical defensively than we have been.”

Elgin will kick-off the season with Plainview in Week One.

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