King's Way football going 11 man

Program expanding from its 8-man success

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoKing's Way Christian coach and athletic director Luke Gillock
photoKing's Way Christian quarterback Dustin Johnson

King's Way Christian quarterback Dustin Johnson lined up behind center at the team's first spring practice earlier this month and that is when it really hit him.

"There's a whole lot of guys out here," he recalled thinking.

Yes, 22 in fact.

Eleven on each side of the ball.

At the same time.

That is a big difference for the King's Way Christian football team.

King's Way is moving from 8-man football to the 11-man game starting this fall. The first season will feature a hybrid schedule, if you will — six games against varsity Class 1A competition and three against junior varsity squads. The goal is to be a full-time varsity 11-man program by 2015, according to coach and athletic director Luke Gillock.

"With the climate here at King's Way as we continue to move forward in developing our sports programs, we felt this was a good time to make the leap of faith," Gillock said.

The coach said up to 30 athletes have practiced in June. He hopes more join the squad the first official day of practice in August.

King's Way has had a run of success in 8-man football in recent years. But Gillock said the school has always envisioned an 11-man program.

"The biggest change is just that, change," Gillock said.

"In the 8-man game, we exploited our athleticism and the space the game created," he said. "We obviously have a different challenge."

A center, two guards and two tackles? Huh?

"It's just wrapping our minds around the difference," Gillock said. "At the end of the day, it's football."

Still, it will take some time.

"We were out of our element," Johnson said, remembering the first practice. "I've played Clark County Youth Football (11-man) before, but that was years ago."

As a quarterback, Johnson said he has already noticed that he has a lot more to process before the snap.

The Knights are confident that they will figure out this new game.

"We're still rough around the edges," Johnson said. "Just some fine-tuning on the offense, and I'll feel like we'll have a good team."

Johnson said the goal for the 2014 season is to help build a strong 11-man program as well as continue with a bigger goal associated with King's Way sports.

"We have a strong coaching staff that wants to build us up as men and not only as athletes," Johnson said.