IN THE TRENCHES
A Friday night for a high school football linemen usually consists of hand-to-hand combat for 48 minutes with little room to roam.
It’s a position where attention usually comes in the form of a holding or clipping penalty.
But the success of several area teams this season could hinge on the play of those five warriors in the trenches.
This is especially true for Elkins High School, as a veteran offensive and defensive front will be asked to carry the weight until a talented but young group of skill players can get accustomed to varsity-level action.
“We’re going to rely heavily on our lines this season,” Elkins coach Greg Hott said. “Our running backs don’t have the game experience like we’ve had in past years, but one thing we do have is a veteran line.”
The Tigers will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday at home against an explosive Oak Hill offense, which features all-state running back Jalen Jones. The talented senior is the state’s top leading returning rusher, accumulating 2,194 yards on 205 attempts last season.
Hott said winning the battle along the front will be one of the keys to slowing down the Red Devil attack.
“We need to come out and control the ball … get those 12- or 13-play drives, which is a change for us,” he said.
“Last year we had the big plays, the 80-yard touchdown runs. Now we’ll have to grind it out a little more.”
The Tigers prevailed, 43-36, in last year’s meeting at Oak Hill on a late touchdown.
“That was a wild game,” Hott said. “But I think for us to be successful on Friday, we need to contain Jones and keep the scoring down. From what I’ve seen of them in scrimmages, they’ve been running some traditional Wing-T and Jet Series sets on offense, which is something we’re familiar with.
“If we force some turnovers and control the ball on offense, I think we’ll be alright.”
Other games on tap for the first Friday night of the high school season include Bridgeport at Buckhannon-Upshur, Philip Barbour at Grafton, Pendleton County at Tygarts Valley, Tucker County at Pocahontas County, University at Lewis County, Moorefield at Petersburg and Page County (Va.) at East Hardy.
Contact Joey Kittle by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @IMT_Kittle.