September 1, 2005

Tigers Hope to Pass Their Way To Fourth Straight District Title

The old saying is one if by land or two if by sea. No offense to the historic significance of the Paul Revere tale, but Coach Brent Bondurant will take option three, if by air. If the Scotland County R-I football program hopes to capture a fourth consecutive district title and state playoff birth, it’s likely going to come through the air.

“We don’t have the big running back like we’ve had in years past so we’re going to have to try to open things up more offensively,” Bondurant said. “A lot of teams use the run to open up the pass, but we plan to use the pass to open our running game.”

The change in offensive styles isn’t necessarily a knock on the team’s running backs as much as a compliment to the off season improvements of quarterback Marcus Shalley. As a sophomore he completed 60 of 162 passes for 782 yards and nine TDs to just four interceptions.

“He worked really hard in the off season and it has shown in the pre-season,” Bondurant said of the junior play caller. “His work in the weight room is paying off and his confidence is very high as he has been putting the ball on the money. It helps that we have plenty of guys that can catch the ball.”

However the SCR-I receiver corps took a huge hit when all-conference performer Matt Wickert went down with a broken collarbone. The junior isn’t expected back until the district schedule begins in the final three regular season games.

Bryce and Grant Blomme will be asked to pick up much of the slack. They will have to replace Wickert’s team-high 35 catches, 452 yards and five touchdowns. The twins will start in the wide receiver slots while another junior, Colby Brown will get the nod at tightend. Senior Kyler Hess will see time at all three positions as well.

The pass game will need to get protection from an untested offensive line that will feature just one returning starter and he will be in a new spot. Center Lance Smith is moving to left tackle. Jeremy Broomhall will get the nod at left guard while Casey Parrish will do the snapping. Eric Masden and Beau Becraft will man the right side of the line with Michael Keller and Colby Peterson providing depth.

“Our line play is going to be key to our success,” Bondurant said. “If we can keep the pressure off our quarterback and give him time to throw the ball, I think we can put up some points.”

The wide-open style should benefit the ground game as well. With teams focused on defending the pass, senior B.J. Houghton should be able to use his slashing style to break some big gains similar to those he has picked up as a kick returner. Houghton likely will get a workout as back-up Zach McBee is battling a shoulder injury that has him out of the line-up. Bondurant had planned to use Wickert in the backfield some prior to his injury leaving him now to call on sophomores Eric Glass, Ben Wiley and Jeff Kice.

Houghton will head up the defensive unit. He was a first-team all-conference performer last year at linebacker, racking up 84 tackles last year. He will be joined in the middle of the field by fellow senior Dustin Roach in his first year with the program.

“He’s been a huge surprise for us,” Bondurant said. “His brother talked him into going out and he’s been one of our best tacklers in practice and has really picked up the game.”

Brown and Parrish likely will start at the outside linebacker spots with Andy Cowell also figuring into the rotation.

They will play behind the four down linemen spots manned by Becraft, Peterson, Smith and Broomhall. Masden and Keller will be the subs.

The defensive backfield will feature the Blommes at the cornerbacks with Shalley starting at safety. Hess will see time at all three positions as well.

Hess will handle the team’s punting duties while McBee will kick if his injury allows him to suit up.

The Tigers open the season at home Friday, September 2nd when they host Salisbury.

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