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A unique offensive philosophy

Back in May of 2010 Jim Lyall was named head coach at Siena Heights University, a new NAIA program in Adrian, Michigan. Lyall had previously spent over 20 years as the head coach at crosstown Adrian College, spending a total of 36 years on staff.

When he got to Siena Heights Lyall decided to employ a unique offensive strategy. He would have two completely different offensive units. One that ran the spread, and the other that ran a double wing scheme (or what they call the "X-Unit"). 

We hear that when the coaches decide to make the switch on game day, 11 new players take the field that specialize in the new scheme.

"Now people have to prepare for not only one offense, but for two. It’s two different styles of offenses, and for other teams to prepare for that in one week can be difficult.” Lyall explained. Taking a look at their stat sheets, it is not uncommon to see at least 10 players with at least one carry in any given game.

During the 2011 season, one coordinator (Jason Mensing) called the double wing plays, and another (Jeff Hancock) handled the spread play calling duties. 

We have heard from numerous high school coaches that the unique approach, coupled with the staff's hard work on the road recruiting, has made them popular with both coaches and recruits. The offensive versatility allows them to recruit student athletes that fit well in either scheme.

In a state already saturated with 6 D-III programs, 8 D-II programs, 5 D-I programs, and one other NAIA program the Saints have signed an impressive 53 players in their incoming freshman class and featured 123 players on the roster last season.

Mensing, who has since taken the head coaching job at Ottawa Lake Whiteford HS (MI), explained the recruiting advantage to Adrian's Daily Telegram last season.

“The best thing about it for me is we’re creating greater opportunities for kids to achieve for us. The skill set that’s required for our system is different than the skill set for the spread. We have that many more athletes that we’re utilizing. Ultimately, that means we have more guys helping our team win.”

In their inaugural season the Saints went 8-1 (with a handful of D-III JV teams and club teams on the schedule). Still, the Saints were very efficient offensively, scoring at least 28 points in all but two games, including a five game stretch where they outscored opponents 255-25.

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