skip navigation

Crawford players ace Football 101

09/12/2013, 9:35pm PDT
By Craig Malveaux

Simplifying the offense helps Colts pile up the yards in two wins.

Crawford ball carrier Abdi Musa (2) has room to run in the Colts' new offense.


That represents the number of times Crawford High has succumbed to opponents since the start of the 2005 football season. Once considered an athletic powerhouse, the Colts have been anything but lately.

Limited football IQ, lack of commitment and toothpick-thin rosters have marred the Colts since that “magical” 9-2 season of ’04.

Demographics contributed, too.

Sandwiched between City Heights and Rolando, Crawford evolved over a number of decades from a student body of predominantly upper-middle-class white students to 80-90 percent first-generation immigrant students.

Combined, there are 34 languages and 37 dialects spoken on a campus of 1,100 and six languages among 26 varsity football players.

“We’re diverse over here,” said running back Abdi Musa.

“We play soccer and other sports as opposed to football. Most of us have just been recently introduced to football.”

It showed.

Today, however, as Crawford hosts Horizon (1-1), memories of the “glory” days have begun to recreate themselves.

The undefeated Colts (2-0) seek their third-consecutive victory — a feat not accomplished since 2004 — and another step up from the depths of the abyss — an eight-year span that produced an 8-67 record, according to MaxPreps.

“When I took over last year, these kids needed something,” said coach Michael Wright, who previously held head coaching jobs at Hoover and El Cajon Valley. “They needed direction.”

The foundation already crumbling underneath, Wright scrapped the remains, starting anew one layer at a time. The first slab — commitment.

“We tried everything from weightlifting workouts at 6 a.m. to practices after school, but I kept receiving hits or misses from the kids, bits and pieces. There was no commitment,” Wright said.

“So, I approached the administrators about a fourth-period football class, something I could use to build cohesiveness and change the ideals of this program.”

Following a scheduling resolution, the administration granted Wright’s wish, exhibiting belief in his vision.

“That helped us turn the corner,” Wright said of the initiative, which commenced last academic year.

Complementing the on-field curriculum, fourth period exercised the athletes’ minds. Call it Football 101.

“We literally started at ground zero last season,” Wright said. “This is ‘A’ gap, this is ‘B’ gap, this is ‘C’ gap. This is what a defensive end is. This is what a defensive tackle or cornerback or linebacker is. This is how you line up.”

Wright jotted plays on the chalkboard, explained the logistics and challenged the players to collaborate on daily instruction.

“We would get packets to study at home,” said running back Ray Lyons. “It consisted of the plays, problems we had to solve that relate to our offense, the positions and our responsibilities.”

In addition, the Colts exercised their muscle group. A lack of dedication resulted in 21 of 22 kids incapable of bench-pressing 200 pounds.

This year, that number dwindled to seven of 28.

The second slab was scheduling.

Crawford is trying to play teams more in line with its level of competition. So far against nonleague opponents, it’s working in reverse. The Colts have scored 104 points in two blowout victories.

Crawford went outside the City Conference to join the Manzanita League, where the Colts will be matched against smaller-enrollment schools like Holtville, Mountain Empire, Calipatria, Vincent Memorial and Escondido Charter.

“We want to put these kids in a position to experience success,” Wright said.

The final slab was offense.

Coordinator Shawn Cline rid the Colts of complexity, opting for the run-friendly double wing. In two weeks, Crawford has compiled more than 700 yards rushing.

“It’s all misdirection. Everything is so quick-hitting that the defense can’t react quick enough,” Cline said. “You start one way, we cut back inside the other way.”

So far, so good. However, sustained success is no certainty.

“Can this program be salvaged?” Wright echoes.

“I don’t know. We’re going to give it every chance in the world and do everything humanly possible to see that it can be and that it will be.”

Related Stories

Most Popular

Tag(s): Leagues  News  News  San Diego Section  Crawford