CLINTON — During defensive days at last season's Clinton football practices, Ty Berter and Garrett Wayne frequently switched things up.

Berter was the Maroons' starting quarterback and Wayne played wide receiver. When coach Chris Ridgeway wanted to get his defense a look at that week's offensive matchup, Berter and Wayne ran the opposing teams' offense on the scout team.

Instead of Berter lining up as the quarterback, he switched to some hybrid combination of a running back and wide receiver. Wayne lined up at quarterback, a position he'd played before in his career.

The only problem was, Berter and Wayne combined for an unstoppable force offensively. Ridgeway and his coaching staff were becoming more and more aware that a position change would be best for both players, but those kind of moves are a challenge to make in the middle of a season, especially with Berter's strong arm and the Maroons starting 4-0 before narrowly missing the playoffs.

“They would shred us," Ridgeway said. "Watching that enough prompted us to say, ‘OK, maybe this is the change we need to make.' Together they killed us on scout team."

After the final game, Ridgeway told his players a change was forthcoming and not long after that he summoned Berter and Wayne into the coaches' office to tell them of the move. It was well-received, and moving Berter to a position to do damage in space will open new doors for the offense this season, Ridgeway hopes. Wayne will take over at quarterback and Berter will be an open-space assassin at either running back, receiver or a combination of both.

“I like being out in space, and being the quarterback gives me too much pressure on myself," Berter said. "I can relax and play my game."

He had no hesitations at all. In fact, playing quarterback is far removed from his mind.

“I’m completely over quarterback now. I’m burnt out on it," Berter said.

Both players could sense something was coming. Wayne used to go to Berter's house and, while they swam in the pool, they discussed what the offense would look like if they swapped positions, which would also allow Berter to go back to the linebacker spot on defense.

“He threw me a couple good balls and I ran a couple decent routes and we just hit it from there, pretty much," Berter said.

“Ty and I both kind of knew it was a possibility," Wayne said. "We had fun just messing around on scout team because we were always over there."

Berter's move, in particular, has Ridgeway tinkering during summer 7-on-7 camps, and that will likely continue into practices, when teams will begin on Aug. 12.

“It’s changed how I look at the playbook, honestly," Ridgeway said. "I’ve always been a fullback type guy and having a fullback and extra blocker in the backfield, but seeing the things he can do has forced me to try some things I normally never even considered offensively."

Ridgeway is still piecing together exactly what he expects out of Berter. For his part, Berter is particularly fond of catching a pass over the top of the defender, but he's also not one to shy away from contact, either. The options are seemingly limitless right now, and Ridgeway isn't ready to box himself in by putting Berter at any one particular position.

“I’m still trying to process what I want him to do: if I want him out there getting 60-75 catches or do I want him running the ball 60-75 times or do I want somewhere in between? It’s hard to say," Ridgeway said.

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Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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