In quarterback Seth Thompson and versatile playmakers Devonte Dedmond and Reggie Lipscomb, Warhill’s football team isn’t short on playmakers. All three were the focal points of the offense a year ago when the Lions put together its best season – by far – in program history.
Entering his team’s season opener at Park View on Friday, however, Lions head coach Billy Jarvis says his biggest concern is freeing up time and space for those playmakers.
The Lions entered camp this summer without all five interior lineman – including All-Bay Rivers tackle and team captain Teddy West – from a season ago who helped the Lions to a historic 2011 campaign in which they recorded the program’s first winning record and landed its first regional playoff berth.
“It’s a major concern right now,” Jarvis said of his o-line during practice this week. “We’ve had trouble in our scrimmages recognizing and picking up blitzes, and a lot of that is just inexperience.
“We’re now near the level we were at last year, but the guys are working hard and we have some new guys that are learning. It’s going to be a process.”
Returning senior tight ends Parker Osterloh and Seth Mallory add valuable experience and leadership up front, but Jarvis says others must step up in order for his offense to flourish.
“Offensively, guys like Devonte [Dedmond] and Reggie [Lipscomb] are going to get the ball a lot,” Jarvis said. “They’re as good as anyone in the district at making things happen, but the guys up front are going to dictate a lot of our success moving the ball.”
One guy Jarvis is leaning on to fill some of the void left at offensive line is junior guard Bryce Johnston.
“Bryce has been working really hard and doing a lot of good things for us,” Jarvis said. “He had a really good summer and should help us out on both sides of the line.”
Jarvis said his defensive line – which features three returning starters in Osterloh, a Virginia Tech commit, and tackles Ben Tirak and Johnson – will be just as critical to his team’s success Friday night, as Park View is expected to rely heavily on the run.
The Dragons’ 220-pound senior full back Jason Baskerville, who’s coming off a breakout season in which he rushed for over 1400 yards and 19 touchdowns, is Park View’s most dangerous weapon out of the backfield, and Jarvis is already quite familiar with his abilities.
“He rushed for more than 200 yards against us last year,” Jarvis recalled. “He’s a physical back who likes to run between the tackles. He isn’t afraid to ram it up the middle, and he’s tough to bring down.”
Jarvis said he expects his offense to play just as big a factor in limiting the run game as his defense.
“Having Seth [Thompson] back at quarterback is nice because he’s experienced, so he knows how important it is to keep that running back (Baskerville) on the sidelines by getting positive yards every play.
“We would like to score as much as possible, but keeping the ball and getting first downs will be key to making sure that kid doesn’t get a bunch of carries.”
Jarvis expects Friday to be a good early-season test for his team that should help exploit the areas of needed improvement. While acknowledging an opponent’s strengths is an obvious preparation for any team, Jarvis says the difference will be his team concentrating on their own execution.
“We can’t focus on what they do more than what we do,” Jarvis said. “If we don’t turn the ball over and limit the penalties, we’ll have a chance to be successful.”