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College football returns to Newberg Saturday

Bruins will feature varied offense and an aggressive defense in their first game


George Fox released its helmet and uniform design earlier this year and most of the brand-new football facility was completed by the time students arrived on campus last week.

Many on campus have even seen the Bruins scrimmage the past two weekends, but no one, even head coach Chris Casey, knows how the team will respond when the school’s first season kicks off for real Saturday versus Arizona Christian.Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Hurler - Starting quarterback Grant Schroeder flings a pass during practice last week. The Santiam Christian graduate will lead the George Fox offense when the Bruins open their first season of football in 46 years Saturday versus Arizona Christian.

Only then, when the proverbial rubber meets the road, that George Fox’s identity as a football team will truly be revealed.

For Casey, the hope is that a variable-look run offense and an aggressive defense will propel the Bruins to the first of many victories to come.

On offense, that will start with the offensive line, which will utilize traditional power blocking out of its base I-formation and a zone-blocking scheme in spread and pro-style formations.

Casey said he plans to utilize multiple formations and plays, much like the University of Alabama or the Baltimore Ravens.

“We like to feel like we have enough in our package that we always have something to go to,” Casey said. “We’ve got the old and the new.”

Like at most positions, George Fox will start mostly sophomore returning players or transfers along the offensive line, but will also have a few freshmen in the mix for significant playing time.

By rotating a lot of players, Casey hopes to overcome the size disadvantage the Bruins are sure to have going up against rosters laden with juniors and seniors that are years older and have had time to bulk up.

“We really have a good young group,” he said. “They just have to get a lot of experience and maturity. And they’re still have to get stronger physically.”

Sophomore Grant Schroeder will get the starting nod at quarterback and has a large stable of running backs, led by John Shaffer, Ryan Comstock and Tre Drumgoole, to fuel the running game, which will be the foundation of the offense.

Casey said he also like his defensive line, which will feature three players — Justin Kruse, Tanner Krahel and 2013 Newberg High School grad Dane Jensen — who are versatile enough to play both tackle or end. Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Battling - Jesse Bresser (right) attempts to break up a pass intended for Josue Cooper during practice last week. Bresser will start at free safety in George Fox's 3-5-3 defense Saturday against Arizona Christian.

The Bruins will line up in a 3-3 (also known as a 3-5) defense with three inside linebackers and two strong safeties, one free safety and two cornerbacks.

The strong safeties will be asked to line up in various positions on the field and will be responsible for run support, blitzing and pass coverage.

“There’s a lot of line movement and pressure from our backers,” he said. “We’re multiple with our formations and movements and believe that causes a lot of problems and hesitation for offenses, especially offensive line and their blocking schemes.”

Casey said he was pleased with much of what he saw in the team’s scrimmage versus a community college team on Saturday, especially up front, where they were able to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback.

GFU will face a tough opponent in NAIA Arizona Christian, which is also starting its program from scratch, but has recruited a lot of transfer players and had the luxury of playing two games already.

“They’re probably ahead of where most teams would be for just starting themselves,” Casey said. “We have our work cut out for us.”

Casey said the Bruins have been successful in its attempts to integrate into the campus in a positive way, including helping the rest of the student body move in a few weeks ago, and understands how much restarting football means to the campus and community.

“We try to treat every game the same, but you can’t deny the fact that this game is special, the first game back,” he said. “It’s just really a neat time for George Fox.”



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