Lawrence County was a much different team last year when it came to offense. Gone were the power veer sets and in was the spread wide open passing attack.
But while the new passing attack brought plenty of big plays and excitement, the lack of a strong running game was sorely missed at times.
“I like the spread attack and having those big passing plays. It’s hard to beat the effect of a big play down the field,” said senior Brody Franks. “But we still have to have that ground attack.”
Franks is entering his third year as a starter along the offensive line. He, and junior Colton Reeves, have been starters at right and left guard respectively since the 2017 season.
“It gives you a lot of experience to help the young ones out,” said Franks. “I know how it feels to be in their shoes.”
The offensive line was very young and makeshift last year. Injuries and other circumstances forced Reeves to move to tackle, Hunter White (a linebacker) had to move to guard and Noe Guzman was thrust into the all important left tackle role just prior to the season. This year Guzman and White, along with center George Hill, are all gone this year, leaving Franks and Reeves as the only returning starters for the second year in a row.
Still, despite the inexperience, both players and coaches feel as if the offensive line will be much stronger as a unit this year.
“They’ve taken the offseason very seriously,” said head coach Rich Dutton. “They’re hungry. Brody has gone to double digit camps, Colton has been crazy in the weight room and all this is showing.”
Reeves will be able to move back to left guard this year, giving the Devils back the solid guard tandem of him and Franks. Ki Pointer, a first team All-County defensive lineman last year, moves to right tackle. The other two players, Devon Young at center and Dallan Montgomery at left tackle, are players coaches are very high on.
That starting five has been set since spring, which is the biggest plus. With no makeshift going on, the line has been given time to gel with one another, something that could pay dividends this fall.
“Putting Colton back at guard and moving Ki to tackle gives us experience, and the younger guys are very coachable and eager to learn,” Franks said. “Overall, there’s just a great mindset and as a whole, we’re way closer and have gelled more.”
Dutton and his staff have stressed the importance of not overusing guys by playing them both ways. So, it just goes to show the emphasis they have put on the offensive line. Pointer was a star defensive lineman and Franks has received college offers on that side of the ball. But both will play offense more.
“I’d like to say that we won’t play guys both ways, but they’ll have to play defense some. You just can’t keep guys like Ki Pointer and Brody Franks off the defensive line,” Dutton said. “But if we can keep them off some drives, allow them to take a break, come over to the tv and get some extra coaching. Then that’s going to be a bonus for us.”
The mindset that Franks alluded to earlier has gone a long way in helping coaches more easily make these decisions.
“Defense is what I love most,” said Franks. “But I feel like I can make an impact on offense, and it’s all about doing whatever I can to help the team best.”