OSSEO — When Eric Boettcher surveyed the pieces he’d have at his disposal for the upcoming year this offseason, something stood out.
His team had weapons in the passing game, and plenty of them.
So a decision was made. Osseo-Fairchild was going to utilize the aerial attack more so than it ever had under the direction of sixth-year coach Boettcher.
How did the quarterback and wide receivers feel about this? Take a guess.
“I love it,” junior QB Jackson Johnson said. “There’s more opportunity for me, more opportunity for the wideouts.”
The Thunder wanted to use the tools at their disposal this fall, and they certainly have so far. Johnson has thrown for 873 yards in four games, and is the leading passer in the Cloverbelt Conference by over 400 yards.
Osseo-Fairchild has thrown the ball at least 30 times in three of its four games this season. Three players have 17 catches or more already, and junior receiver Bret Kostka is the leading receiver in the Cloverbelt with 310 yards.
Four of the conference’s top six receivers in terms of receiving yards are Thunder players. Kostka, Ryan Myhers, Caden Boettcher and Shaun Windhorst all have over 100 yards.
“The decision to kind of open it up was simply because of the personnel we had coming back and the skill kids we had coming back,” coach Boettcher said. “Knowing that we can get them out in space and spread a defense out, we’re hoping that the one-on-one matchups can go in our favor.”
So far, receiving matchups have gone the Thunder’s way. But it hasn’t always translated into wins. Osseo-Fairchild is 1-3 this season, with a win over Cadott two weeks ago standing as the only victory thus far. Johnson passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
When things click like that, the spread attack is hard to slow down.
“I’ve got an awesome quarterback who can make sure the ball is right there every time,” Kostka said. “We’ve got a lot of talent in our wideouts, even our slots. Say (the other team) doubles up on me, we’re going to burn them with our other wideout or other slot.”
The Thunder haven’t abandoned the ground game either. Caden Boettcher has 328 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season.
Kostka had been a running back before this season before making the switch to the perimeter to become the team’s leading receiver.
“I’ve kind of transformed into a wide receiver,” he said. “I like it, it’s a lot different. I just roll with it.”
Pass-heavy offenses aren’t typically common in the high school game, where teams usually opt to go with a run-first scheme.
The Thunder face Mondovi in nonconference play, a rare matchup between two teams that both use a spread-style offense.
“Especially in this conference, where teams run it a lot, it’s surprised some teams,” Johnson said. “It makes teams have to adjust in the game. When we get something rolling, it’s hard for us to stop.”