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Small school thinks BIG

by TED MADDEN

WFAA-TV

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Things are happening fast at Garland Christian Academy. Joel Berry took over as head football coach last year and led the Swordsmen to a co-district championship, the program's first in 27 years. This year they're 4-0 for the first time in school history. And they're doing it with one of the best offenses around.

"An average play lasts seven seconds," says wide receiver Zev Bailey. "That's seven seconds of fury."

They run a lot of plays, and they gain a lot of yards. According to Max Preps, their quarterback ranks #1 in the nation in total offense, with more than 500 yards per game.

"The only way I can get the stats I do and what we do is because they're blocking," says Hayden Burnett. "Receivers are blocking, and it happens in the big picture too. Everybody sees it."

It's all hand signals and no huddle. They don't run a lot of plays, but the few plays they do run, they run well.

"And because of that we feel like it doesn't matter what the defense gives us," says head coach Joel Berry. "We can block those few plays and we can get open on those few routes."

The offense is unbelievable, and the team as a whole is unconventional. They don't kick field goals, they always go for it on fourth down, and every kickoff is an onside kick. But one thing they do that is very unique to small school football -- they start everybody. They have 22 players on the team: 11 start on offense, and 11 on defense.

Jonathan Walther exemplifies what this team is about. He was a running back last year, but coming into his senior year, coach Berry asked him to switch positions -- to offensive guard.

"You know I'm just as useful as an offensive lineman as I was as a running back," says Walther. "This is where God wants me; this is where my team needs me. I'm glad I play where I play."

For this team, the word "BIG" is an acronym for "Believe In Greatness." At 4-and-oh and with one of the best offenses in the country, it's impossible not to.

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