Canadian Football League

Friday, November 10, 2006

Did you play in the Canadian Football League?

Since arriving at Smiths Station this spring, Dieter Brock hasn't been questioned about his playing days by any of his players.
Not one of the Panthers has asked the offensive coordinator was it was like to start in the 1985 NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears. None of them have asked him what it was like to throw for more than 30,000 yards in the Canadian Football League during his 11-year career.
"I don't think they realize that I even played football," Brock said.
Smiths Station coach Woodrow Lowe knows his players weren't born when Brock started playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1974 or when he led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the championship game in 1984.
Despite their lack of knowledge about Brock's career, the Panthers have bought into his scheme as they went from 1-9 last year to 6-4 this season. They also earned their first playoff berth since 1997, and will open the Class 6A playoffs against Daphne tonight at 8.
Brock's National Football League career was cut short by a knee injury he suffered in the first preseason game in 1986 and a nagging back injury.
He was put on the injured reserve list for four weeks of the season, but knew his playing days were over.
"I had some injury problems," he said. "I never did come back."
That was 20 years ago.
Brock then began his coaching career, which has included a series of stops. He spent four years at Alabama-Birmingham. He had a five-year stint as offensive coordinator at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn.
Brock was the offensive coordinator at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., last season.
After one year there, Brock decided that he wanted to coach high school -- something he only has done for one season. In 1998, he was the offensive coordinator at Meadowview Christian in Selma, Ala.
"I felt like it was a good opportunity," he said about Smiths Station. "I thought I had a great chance to be successful. Being from Alabama, it was a chance to get back here."
And when he sent in his resume, he didn't have too much knowledge of Smiths Station.
For Lowe, it was a chance to hire a proven coach that was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1995 and had won the CFL Most Outstanding Player award in 1980 and 1981.
"After last year, I knew I needed to get some help," Lowe said. "It was an honor to have some good people apply for the opening... . They didn't have to come here."
Despite going 1-9 in 2005 and having a dismal offense, Brock embraced the challenge. He brought with him an offense that is reminiscent of schemes run in the CFL.
Brock's offense usually has one running back and four wide receivers. The quarterback usually lines up in the shotgun.
The next challenge that he faced was trying to teach it to the Panthers.
"We learned some things in the spring, but everyone was still scattered," he said. "We had a lot to learn this summer."
And the Panthers have learned it quickly. Quarterback Kyle Barr spent plenty of hours during the summer working with his offensive coordinator to learn the various reads.
"We watched a lot of film," Barr said earlier this season. "He showed me where the quarterback should throw it depending on the defense."
Barr has thrown for 1,736 yards and six touchdowns in Brock's offense. And it's no surprise that Brock's pass-happy offense relies heavily on the quarterback.
"It's a wide-open attack and designed around the quarterback," he said. "We like to spread the field and open it up... . It gives the team with the lesser talent a chance to win."
If the Panthers can keep Daphne off-balance and don't make mistakes, they could have a chance to upset the more-talented Trojans.
Mistakes have hurt the Panthers this season. Barr has thrown 12 interceptions and the Panthers haven't always executed to perfection.
"We have stopped ourselves a lot," Brock said. "It's either a missed block or a bad throw. We have been our own worst enemy."
Brock didn't make a lot of mistakes while playing for the Blue Bombers or the Tiger-Cats.
But none of his Smiths Station players would know that.


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