"I'm really simple," the 36-year-old coach said about directing his team's offense.
Ben Ashley's days as an assistant to several prominent coaches has helped the first-year Falkner High School head coach come to terms with what wins games on the high school level, particularly late in the season: a productive running game, a solid defense and stellar kicking game.
"I've worked for Lance Pogue at South Panola and I've worked for Willis Wright," said Ashley, who sports a tremendous mustache. "I've worked for Andy Stevens (Ashley's first cousin) at Aberdeen. ... Pat Byrd, I worked for him in Amory.
"So, I've been around some really, really good coaches who have shown me and helped me understand that a good, sound running game this time of year, when its cold, goes a long way. So does a good defense and a good kicking game."
It's now November of Ashley's first season at Falkner, his mustache has grown thicker and his Eagles team will host their first postseason game since 1999. The Eagles (9-2) finished second in MHSAA's Division 1-1A with a 7-1 mark and get to host Ray Brooks in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs on Friday.
Senior quarterback Kendrick Williams has rushed for 1,027 yards on 150 carries and 18 touchdowns, as the Eagles have outscored their opponents 244-135.
Hunter Hopkins is a senior running back who has rushed for 616 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Eagles' second-leading rusher, 6-foot-1, 190-pound Tray Woody (687 yards, 4 TDs), is only a sophomore.
"Most of our kids will be back next year," said Ashley. "We'll have about six or seven back on offense, and anywhere from nine to 10 guys back on defense that have played a lot.
"So, we're really young, and we're excited about that. We got a great junior high program. We just won our junior high conference championship.
"And things are really good right now."
Prior to taking over at Falkner, Ashley served as the defensive coordinator for Charlie Dampeer's Pontotoc Warriors. While Dampeer has been regarded as an offensive savant for the tremendous amount of formations and looks his team has shown during games, Ashley has taken a conservative approach with Falkner's offense.
"A lot of teams want to go one play, one play (to score)," said Ashley, "but that isn't our style. We'll never have that ability here, I don't think.
"But as long as we stay ahead of the chains - and it's not second-and-9 or second-and-10 - we'll have a chance because we got a really good offensive line."
Bag of defensive tricks
On the defensive side of the ball, however, Ashley may be as gimmicky as they come. Against one opponent, Ashley had two of his linebackers line up outside the nines - that is, on the outside of the tight ends and tackles - and his best defensive lineman line up on his opponent's youngest and weakest offensive lineman.
With the rest of his defensive linemen each lined up directly in front of an offensive lineman, the Eagles' D was constantly in its opponent's backfield.
And against Smithville on Thursday night, two of the Eagles 'backers consistently came off the edges and the secondary played man coverage.
"We don't do that a lot," Ashley said. "All year long we just played good, solid defense - base Cover 3-type stuff.
"But after watching film, we evaluated it pretty hard and we felt like we matched up really well with these guys - well enough that we could play man and come get their quarterback.
"And that heat made a little bit of a difference there later in the game."
A whole other challenge for Ashley and his defense will come in the playoffs.
Ashley attended the Durant-Ray Brooks game last Friday since that outcome determined his team's first-round opponent.
"I've been around a lot of football for a long time, and I know that Durant has a reputation for being big, strong, fast and physical," said the Eagles coach. "And pure speed comes out of the Mississippi Delta. ... Nothing like we've seen up here in terms of speed."
If there's anyone that can handle an overwhelming disadvantage in terms of personnel, it's Ashley. The coach made national headlines at Rebul Academy in Learned for winning two games on the road with only 11 players each time.
"So I told the kids as a joke after the season that I was cutting the travel squad," Ashley recalled about his 2002 Rebul team. "Some of the dead weight has gotta go."
The mustache stays ... for now.