You never know who might pop up on the Chesterton football sidelines these days.
Just last week, there were appearances by Halle Berry, Erin Andrews and Lou Holtz. Portage coaches Wally McCormack and Terry Chestovich even stopped over, along with returns from beyond by Howard Cosell and Walter Cronkite.
The Trojans' use of celebrity faces as a part of their offensive signals, a la Oregon, has brought a flair to play-calling.
"We have fun with it," said junior quarterback Cole Teal, who has been a part of the popular 'Box Crew' the last four weeks. "We do brainstorming as a team. I was out (with mono) and you still want to be a part of the team, to help any way you can. It keeps you engaged in the game. You always have a front-row seat."
The set-up, which includes five colored, worded boxes, is an integral part of the no-huddle offense that coach John Snyder implemented in the spring. Three or four boxes/pictures are used on a typical play. The signals are used to indicate formations, personnel groupings, specific plays and motion calls. Some may also simply be a decoy.
"I don't see us going back to huddling," Snyder said. "It's easier than anything else as far as terminology. The first few weeks, it was more of an adjustment for me than the kids. I liken it to Peyton Manning. A lot of what he barks out means nothing. It keeps the defense guessing."
Kicking coach Kyle Yelton has a connection in South Bend who creates the new boards each week. The gallery has expanded as the season's progressed.
"At this point, I've got six films," Snyder said. "Teams have obvious tendencies, you get more information, and you start figuring some things out."
The coaching end of the calls can involve Snyder, assistants or a combination of the two. Any offensive player should be able to be part of the operation, though the crew, currently of seven, is usually comprised of those injured and inactive.
"They've got to pay attention," Snyder said. "If somebody doesn't show something, it screws everything up. It goes back to trust, keeping their heads in the game. We've had one delay penalty and that was my fault. In years past, there were points where we were like, 'Oh my God, we've got to hurry.' It's never been an issue with pushing the play clock."
Senior QB Michael Crowley has been on the field end of the process and gives it two thumbs up.
"It's gone pretty well," he said. "The only problem might be if somebody doesn't see the signal. I like it a lot. It's more efficient. It's all right there for you."
The fast-break attack enables Chesterton to increase its number of snaps significantly and limit a defense's time to adjust. An average game may feature around 50 plays. In its opener with South Bend St. Joseph's, they ran over 70.
"We came in Saturday morning and our jaws dropped," Teal said. "We put in a lot of time on it in the spring. I feel like we picked up on it right away during camp."
The concept is also valuable from a chemistry standpoint. You don't have to be a starter to be a contributor.
"It doesn't matter what your status is," said Crowley, who was only familiar with Cronkite because of History class. "A guy who hardly plays on JV can come up with something. It's definitely an honor to be involved."
Other area teams run the no huddle and do sideline signals, but none use the picture boards.
"I've seen it in some high school games on ESPN," Snyder said. "I've studied the concept and a number of schools use the color schemes."
As for who/what might be in store for this week...
"I could tell you," Snyder said, smiling. "But I'd have to kill you."
This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.