All about title for Cougar line

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Wallace Drury has almost 2,500 yards rushing. Wallace Drury has scored 42 touchdowns. Wallace Drury is a Player of the Year candidate and will be All-State and has newspaper articles written about him.

You’d think the guys that paved the way for those accomplishments might be at least a tiny bit jealous of the Southern Academy Cougars’ star running back. You’d think wrong.

“The skill guys are supposed to get the attention,” says Cougar tackle Travis Rhodes. The offensive line is proud of what [Drury’s] done. As long as we’re winning, we don’t care.”

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It’s safe to say that Drury does care, very much, about the work being done by Rhodes and the other six starting members of the Cougars’ offensive line: tackles Andy Wheeler and Brad McCrory, guards William “Bebop” Woodall and Adam Brown, center Allen Langham, and tight end Wes Henry.

“He’s real thankful for what the linemen have helped him do,” says McCrory.

“Every time he makes a good run,” says Langham, “he comes back to the huddle and makes sure to thank us. If we’re on the sideline he’ll pat you on the back. It’s the same way on the field.”

Drury hasn’t been the only one impressed with the size of the holes Southern’s line has opened for him. After seeing his Rebels whipped 60-0 last Friday, Chambers Acad. head coach called the Cougar offensive line “the best I’ve seen in years.”

“They’ve come a long way,” says Cougar head coach Shaun Bonds. “Since the fall jamboree, they’ve gotten a lot better. They’ve jelled. They’re a good group to coach…they complement our offense and the offense complements them.”

The groundwork for the line’s success, its members say, was laid down in the summer, when the team came together to practice in the withering heat and formed a tight bond that’s still paying dividends on the field.

“Practice, practice, practice,” made the difference, says Rhodes. “We put in a lot of hard work over the summer.”

“We spent a lot of time together,” says Langham. “That’s why we’re all so close.”

“That’s how you learn to trust each other,” McCrory adds. “You trust the person beside you to do their job and you focus on yours.”

The line’s chemistry also allows its members to hold each other accountable without some of the dust-ups the Cougars says they’ve seen in opposing huddles.

“Other teams, sometimes you see them falling apart,” says Woodall. “We don’t fight. If we know the other person did something wrong, we just let him know and get ready for the next play.”

“If you’ve worked with somebody for a long time,” Rhodes says, “you know their tendencies. It makes it easier to pick up stunts.”

As the season has progressed and the Cougars have come closer, they’ve also gotten better. Although they politely disagree on whether the line’s best game was in Week 9 against Patrician or Week 10 against Pickens, Drury’s biggest explosion was against the Pickens Pirates. Playing a team that had defeated Southern 14-0 in a jamboree game, Drury torched the Pirates for 411 yards and four scores on 26 carries.

Rhodes says that with each big play from Drury, the line only becomes more inspired to push their way through what’s often a stacked front and get him into the open field again.

“It’s pretty exciting to see what Wallace does each game, the moves he makes” he says. “They can load up the box and he can still break a play at any time.”

But even after the Pickens game, the linemen say there’s still room for improvement.

“There’s still blocks missed,” says McCrory.

“We still haven’t had our best game,” Langham adds.

That’s a scary thought for Lowndes Acad., the Cougars’ opponent this week, and whoever Southern might meet in the state title game Nov. 18.

“We just want to get to the state championship and win it,” Rhodes says. “That’s the only thing.”