By GENE PHELPS
Trent Hammond’s “run-always, pass-when-you-have-to” offensive mindset was never more evident than during the 2006 season.
Hammond was the offensive coordinator for Class 3A state champion Franklin County. When the clock expired in the championship game, the Bulldogs had thrown 38 times – all season.
Fast forward to 2011. Hammond, then with Amory, has a Panthers team, quarterbacked by Forest Williams, throw for 5,111 yards and 55 touchdowns.
“It was a difficult change for me,” said Hammond, Tupelo’s first-year head coach, following his team’s first practice session Monday. “You go from throwing 38 times in a season to 680-something times.”
Hammond’s offensive coordinator at Amory and with the Golden Wave is John Keith, a former Mooreville and Ole Miss offensive lineman. Keith’s love of an up-tempo, no-huddle attack wasn’t always an easy sell.
“At Amory, we had a third-and-6 inches in one game,” Hammond recalled. “I’m listening on the headset and (Keith) calls a doggone pass play. My mic went dead about that time and I’m running down the sideline trying to call a timeout.
“I wanted to run a quarterback sneak, a wedge or a dive.”
Keith laughs now, listening to his boss, and says, “We catch it for a 55-yard touchdown. It was a high-percentage pass.”
Look for plenty of up-tempo play from the Golden Wave this season, but expect a blend of pass and run.
“We go with what fits our personnel,” Keith said. “Last year at Amory we were 60-40 run. That one year (2011) we were 70-30 pass, but really it was 90 percent pass. We ran a lot in the fourth quarter.
“We’re just figuring out the best way for us to win.”
Keith believes his offensive players have enjoyed the new style of play. The quarterbacks are returner Alex Norwood and newcomer Daniel Bristow.
“It’s a big transition from what they did last season,” he said. “We’re just going to keep plugging away until we can find something we can hang our hat on.”
Tupelo plays Aug. 16 in a jamboree at Itawamba AHS, then opens its season at home Aug. 23 against Lafayette.