O-line has come full circle for Gators|[11/17/05]
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2005
From Jeff Byrd
Maligned for much of the season, the Vicksburg High offensive line has suddenly found its mark the last two weeks.
Strong back-to-back outings, including last week’s 309-yard rushing game against archrival Warren Central, has given the entire offense confidence, heading into Friday’s Class 5A playoff opener at top-ranked South Panola.
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A late-season adjustment to a more run-oriented wing-T attack has benefited the offensive line and the overall Gators’ attack.
“I think the coaches deserve the credit for making that adjustment in finding something that works,” said VHS guard Mark Cabatay.
Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said the move from the spread formation to the wing, allows the Gators more options.
“Vicksburg has always been known as a speed place, going back to James Jones,” Stevens said of the former Gator running back who went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys. “These days, we’ve got a Delmon Robinson, a Chavous McWhorter, a Vernon Wolfe and Jomar Hunt.
“When we were in the I, we felt most teams were just stacking the line against us. By going to the wing set, we’ve started to split the defense. We can attack a defense, east, west, north and south. We can hit the sides. And it gives us more options.”
It is also an easier offense for the offensive linemen.
“It’s fun now because you just come off the ball and hit somebody,” Cabatay said.
Tackle Cameron Bingham added, “Instead of just going straight and taking on somebody who’s bigger, we’ve now just got to pick up our assignment.”
Other factors have helped too.
Center Devin Nelson said the short sprints earlier in the fall have made the line more fit for all four quarters.
“That 10-yard sprint after every play during practice has helped,” Nelson said.
So has more continuity on the line. The unit is pretty set with Trey Curtis and Bingham at the tackles, Cabatay and Brian Pierce at the guards and Nelson at center.
Stevens can also bring in David Williams at guard and put him at fullback in goal-line situations.
“We have started the same people in the same spots and that’s helped,” Cabatay said.
But nothing is better for an offensive linemen than to see his running backs sprint down the field following a well executed block.
Robinson, who had 121 yards in the 10-0 win over Warren Central, is one of those breakaway type players.
It was his 62-yard run that set up the game’s clinching score late in the fourth quarter.
“There were some amazing holes out there,” he said.
“You put a Delmon Robinson anywhere on the field and he’s going to be good,” Cabatay added.
“We’ve just seem to click at homecoming once they moved Delmon to wingback,” said VHS guard Brian Pierce. “He’s an explosive player and has stepped up for us.”