4 starters return to Tiger offensive line
High school football is won and lost on the line of scrimmage.
Most coaches, including Frenship’s Brad Davis, will tell you that.
So go ahead and attribute last year’s 498 yards of offense per game to the Tigers’ offensive line.
This year? With four starters back, expect more of the same.
“Any time you have a lot of experience back with kids who have a lot of games under their belt, then that puts you ahead as far as teaching and kids knowing what to do,” Davis said. “The offensive line has to work as one unit, and this group’s been together for a year — minus one — so that’s a very positive aspect of getting our offense ready to be at its best.”
The Tigers lost graduating center David Ortiz, who committed to Air Force, but returns two seniors and two juniors to the same line.
Leading the group is 6-foot-5, 295-pound stalwart Dalyn Bearden, who is making the switch from left tackle to center. Bearden started as center in place of Ortiz when the Air Force commitment was injured, and Bearden has also been attending camps as a center.
“This will be his third year to start, and he is going to be our leader up there,” Davis said, “and you need your leader at center.”
Bearden has a standing offer from FBS newcomer Texas State, and he has also been looked at by a handful of other programs, including TCU.
“I believe I’m ready,” Bearden said. “I worked some center last year. I played one game against Monterey due to injuries, all through the college camps I’ve been going to I’ve been working at center.
“I believe I’m ready — I just hope the other nose guards are ready, too.”
Joining Bearden is senior Bradley Garcia at guard, and juniors Travis Rasberry and Matthew Robinson at guard and tackle, respectively.
Davis rattled off a handful of names competing for the vacant left tackle position — including Rhett Cates and Landon Hope, who each have game-time experience.
Garcia, who has varsity experience dating back to his sophomore year, expects whoever takes over the tackle to bolster the line.
There isn’t too much the line needed to improve on from last year, other than normal player progression, so it’s hard to pinpoint vast improvements, but Garcia and Bearden did their part in the offseason as senior leaders.
“Me and Dalyn, we went to an o-line camp and we did some different drills and it helped us out a lot,” Garcia said. “But techniques, I think we’re supposed to be a lot better so we’ll get it done this year.”
Seniors Adam Hood, Taylor York, Jeff Anderson and Todd Garner are also competing for the open position, Davis said, and they should add to the depth of the line — one of the biggest strengths a team can have.
But the biggest strength of this year’s o-line, Davis said, is on the mental side.
“I think more than anything it’s how smart they are and knowing their assignments,” Davis said. “Of course you’ve got to have the size and the strength, and you got to have the ability to stay on your blocks and all that, but this is a smart group of kids.”
Keeping up the clip of nearly 500 yards per game, and expanding it, should be well within reach for the Tigers if their offensive line continues its production, even though Frenship is replacing its starting quarterback and running back.
“We expect a lot of good things from our offense this season,” Garcia said.
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