Cougars lining up for the ground game
DUBLIN – Three eras of Pulaski County High School football have been compressed into the last three years.
First, there was Air Cougars as the program introduced then new coach Todd Jones in 2010. The state champion winning (at Essex) Pulaski County alumnus brought the spread with him. A season later, it was the Air-Land Two-Step Cougs. Now, it’s the Return to Forever Cougars.
Air Cougars did so-so, batting .500 with the new offense Jones first season. Last year, the spread-wing T mix produced mixed results but not a lot of wins. Pulaski County qualified for the Group AA Division 4 Region IV playoffs but finished 1-10.
This year, it’s back to the wing T offense Pulaski County had run for years and many thought the Cougars would run forever.
Four senior offensive line starters have been on hand for all the transitions. To a man, Tyler Golden, Cory Hale, James King, and Codie Blevins give hearty endorsement to the return to power football.
As any of them will tell you, dropping back to form a quarterback perimeter in the passing game isn’t near as much fun as going on the attack to batter a hole in the defensive front for the running game.
“It’s the competition you love,” King said. “You get the hardest hits, do your job, play smart, and win the game.”
All the merits of the running game were on full display when Pulaski County crunched Radford 41-9 in the season opener last week in front of a packed house at Dobson Stadium. A virtual sellout isn’t what you might have expected from the fans of a team that lost 10 of 11 of the previous season.
“After the bad season we had and then the community comes back around for the start of the next season with a sellout is pretty impressive,” Blevins said.
The Cougars were impressive. After Radford scored the first TD of the second half to make the score 14-9, it was all Cougars the rest of the way. Running backs Quincy Rollins and Marcus McClanahan rushed for 259 of the Cougars 314 yards and scored five touchdowns between them, three by Rollins. Pulaski County scored 27 unanswered points, all in the fourth quarter, to win going away.
The Cougars will be hoping for more of the same when they invade Northside for another rugged non-district tilt Friday.
Pulaski County’s backs looked great last week, but somebody had to spring them loose to do their thing. Take a bow, linemen. In addition to the four seniors, juniors Kareem Calfee and James Reynolds contributed to a superb effort up front.
“Going through what they had to go through [last year] and coming so close in some games and still getting beat, I think that kind of built a mentality with those senior linemen of hey, we’re not going to quit, we’re that close,” Jones said. “Those guys were saying ‘Follow me. We’re going to get it done. ‘ ”
Offensive line play has always been a tradition at Pulaski County. The current players know the history.
“We want to keep it going,” said Golden, the center and one of the players on the team whose fathers once played in the program. “We want to make people proud to come watch us play, give us advice, so we can keep it going and pass it on to the next guy – the sophomores and freshmen – and tell them what it’s all about.”
That’s easier to do when you’re blocking for running backs who can do a job. Rollins and McClanahan are a bruising pair.
“They don’t take all the credit,” said Blevins, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound tight end. “They know they have an offensive line up front doing the dirty work. All they have to do is run through the holes.”
None of the senior linemen is what you’d call a monster. Calfee is the big boy of the unit at 275 and still being a junior, you see how he may add some pounds before the end of the 2013 season. Golden is solid at 5-11, 250. Hale goes 6-1, 220 and King 6-4, 225. King is one of two two-way starters on the team along with Calfee.
“You just have to be in shape,” said King, who also plays defensive tackle. “You have a job to do every play. On defense, you have to go a little wild; on offense, you have to think more because you have to do your job perfectly.”
The rest of the linemen can play defense when summoned to do so.
“Any of them can play if we need for them to,” Jones said.
The whole crew played up a storm last week. Nothing like a little wing T to get the thunder and lightning going.
By Ray CoxThe Roanoke Times | 381-1672
No Comments »
No comments yet.