It’s third and two and the offense desperately needs a first down to get rolling. The ball is snapped and the opposing team sends both middle linebackers to blitz, bringing a total of six players slicing through five worn down offensive linemen.
Outmanned and outgunned, the offensive line gets overpowered, allowing the defense to blow up a run play in the backfield.
This was a direct representation of what Alcovy faced when it took on Newton in the spring game back in late May. And it signaled a recurring problem the Tigers have been facing for a while now.
But Tigers’ head coach Chris Edgar, now in his second season at the helm, will stop short of calling the offensive line a team weakness.
“I wouldn’t say that they are the Achilles heel to the team,” said Edgar. “They are hard-working kids, but we’re not blessed with the size as some of the other schools.”
To make up for this, Edgar’s offense features a lot of angle blocking – a collection of pulling guards and down blocks, depending on the play – while the line works to play more aggressive.
“We only had about a week and a half of practice before the spring game, but Newton manhandled us. There’s no excuse,” he said. “But now we’ve had over two months this summer to focus on things. We’ve done a lot of film work, a lot of footwork, and other things to get where we need to be.”
Edgar also noted that as the team progressed through the summer, the offensive line has become more cohesive as a group. One key to this chemistry was bringing in a new offensive line coach in Damoio’n Wright.
“Wright is a passionate coach,” Edgar said. “He shows that passion to his guys, but he also shows that he genuinely cares about those guys. He kind of reminds me of myself when I was a young, passionate, hungry line coach. The guys are responding to him and are stepping up.”
Not only did Edgar work with the team on schematics and emotional play, but he also wanted the line to get stronger. Three of the top ten lifters on the team come from the offensive line group that looks to use their strength to make up for the size difference.
With an already loaded skill position group on offense, adding in a solid offensive line to make the big athletic plays happen could be just what Alcovy needs to be an explosive offensive team that could make noise in the AAAAAA playoffs.
And come Friday, Edgar thinks the improved offensive line will be more than prepared when the Tigers host Duluth in the 2017 season opener.
“I really think they’ll be ready,” said Edgar.