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Teamwork key for Lion offense, even at individual positions

While the offensive picture begins to come into focus for 2008 Ennis football, it’s clear the team doesn’t want to put the Lion’s share of the load on one guy.
Players are splitting the duties at several offensive positions, while many Lions will play on both sides of the ball. As for coach Sam Harrell, he simply wants to get the football to the players who can do the most damage to opposing defenses – whether that comes by way of handoff, catch or even direct snap.
“It’s a similar position to where we were at this time last year,” Harrell said.
“We’ve got to throw and catch the ball better next season, but keep running the ball well.”
D.J. Betik will step in as the primary quarterback in his junior campaign, yet Deonte McDade will still have his package of signal caller plays. Harrell said track season definitely benefited Betik’s mobility and he’s stronger than last year as well. While McDade has several routes he throws well, there are others he won’t have to worry about now that Betik’s role has increased.
“D.J. has definitely made physical progress; now we’re looking for improvements in his decision making,” Harrell said.
“You can’t afford to make many bad throws at this level and he’s handling that well so far. Deonte will still have to play quarterback at times because he makes too many good things happen not to put him back there.”
Jason Vavra and Kelvin Pace are the running backs for the Lions, but they will also play safety and linebacker, respectively. With dual workloads, it’s essential these two players don’t have to shoulder a heavy number of carries individually.
“Vavra is more of a slasher who catches the ball well; Pace has been reading the zone real well and he’s a little more physical,” Harrell said.
On that note, Pace absolutely steamrolled a defender toward the end of Monday’s practice to fire up the whole team.
At outside receiver, Kyle Guinyard and Blake Adams are the main men. Guinyard will also play some safety, and he’ll be backed up by starting cornerback Jeremy Smith. Safety Will Pollan is currently injured; but when the season rolls around he’ll likely be Adams’ backup.
“Kyle and Blake both have very good hands and we have to get them the ball,” Harrell said.
McDade, who will start at cornerback and play some running back, is also in the picture as an inside receiver. If there’s a way to get the returning 15-4A Offensive Player of the Year the ball in open space, Lion coaches will do it.
Charles Cox, a smart and tough player with good hands, will play inside receiver. Tim Hearne is a small, explosive player who’ll join the mix at the position.
The tight end position could see some catches from linebacker Jyavon King or J.D. Marrow, who’s also been working at offensive tackle.
“Right now we’re trying to get J.D. comfortable [at tight end] and find out what his potential is,” Harrell said.
“He’s had a tough time with injuries, so he’s trying to figure out exactly what he can do as well.”
On the offensive line, Harrell feels really good about tackles Micah Kemp and Bronson Prachyl, both of which played every snap last season. The coach is also high on Zane Davis, who’s playing center right now but could transition to guard.
“It’s pretty wide open from there; we’re giving other guys long looks,” Harrell said.
“You’ve got to be tough, know your plays, have a great motor and be determined not to get beat. Spring ball is a perfect opportunity for a couple of other linemen to step up.”
Just three practices in, Harrell is pleased with the way Ennis is throwing the ball right now. He’s looking for more consistency, but expects much of that to resolve itself as the offensive-line situation stabilizes.
The Lion offense rolled up and down the field in 7 on 7 drills Monday, which brought good news and bad news depending on what side of the ball players and coaches were on.
“You like to see the offense completing every ball out there, but that just can’t happen from a defensive standpoint,” Harrell said.
“Of course, it will get tougher for the quarterbacks with someone breathing down their neck and the challenge is to find that success in 11 on 11. Early in the spring, we’re not physical enough on defense right now. We’ve got a couple of guys that really know how to hit; others are still trying to figure it out.”
With a lot of practices still to come over the next several weeks, Harrell envisions the Lion offense making a lot more progress and hopefully being a smooth operator collectively when it’s all said and done. Future opposing defenses in 16-4A can only hope that isn’t the case.

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Posted by on Apr 22 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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