Fourth in a series of DODDS Pacific high school football previews.

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – Playing a non-varsity schedule last year, Osan enjoyed its first winning season in seven years, going 4-3 after posting a 6-23 mark over the previous six seasons.

With a new coach, a new offense and young, small players on the turf of Cougars Field, Osan is trying to build on that momentum. But it will be a challenge, given the thin numbers on the roster and the small size of even the Cougars’ linemen.

“We’re young. We’re inexperienced,” said Don Tusha, who comes in as the Cougars fifth coach in seven seasons. “Three returners, one of them started and the other two didn’t see the field. We’re running a new offense, we’re running a new defense. Just taking plays one at a time.”

To put their size and numbers disadvantage to best use, Tusha is installing the double wing as his base offense, and using variations with plenty of misdirection, characteristic of that offensive set.

“The players recognize they’re young and inexperienced and if they don’t execute and go all out, they won’t win,” Tusha said.

The defense will see the Cougars employ four- and three-man fronts, with relentless blitzing from outside. “Lots of blitzing, pressure. We’re small. We hope people will throw the ball on us,” Tusha said.

Much easier said than done, however. While his 15 frontline players “get it” and have picked up what Tusha is trying to install, there are other players “starting to learn to play the game. Eight of our 27 haven’t played a down” of football.

Thus, Tusha and his coaching assistants are focusing on basics. “There are some (players) at the cusp, a week away from completely understanding what we are trying to do,” he said.

“It’s hard, because we have so many new players, but I think we’ll surprise some people.”

The Cougars open their season at 6 p.m. Friday against defending Far East Division II champion Daegu.

Asked if he was optimistic about the team’s chances, Tusha replied: “I would not have been out here from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day since I arrived in country if I didn’t think we could.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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