Leading the Way

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DEMOPOLIS – The biggest x-factor on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers this season is the front line. While the deep Demopolis roster consists of talented skill position players, their production will be largely contingent upon the men in the trenches.

“To be able to compete, we’re going to have to work harder than everybody else,” interim offensive line coach Russell Bedingfield said. “It’s key to what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The emphasis placed on outworking opponents is partially a byproduct of the lack of size along the offensive front.

“If we can have correct technique, which is putting a hat where it’s supposed to be and knowing our assignments, we can get a touchdown every play,” Morgan LeCroy, one of the only two seniors returning on the line, said.

“In a nutshell, what we’re trying to accomplish is get a lot stronger,” Bedingfield said. “We’ve got to get a lot more mentally tough at the line of scrimmage.”

If the group is able to accomplish that goal, it will likely go far in overcoming the inadequacies that plagued it last season.

“Last year, at times, we struggled with the new offense and we struggled blocking. So we’re going to try to do better,” Bedingfield said.

While transitioning to a new system may have had a profound impact on the team’s struggles in 2007, LeCroy believes a lack of leadership contributed to the unit’s deficiencies.

“I think last year the reason we didn’t do so hot, (senior linemen) really didn’t do much to show everybody how to do it,” LeCroy said. “I think me and Trey (Oates) are going to have to go out there and bust our butts. We’re going to have to show everybody we want it and try and make them want it.”

Another factor LeCroy believes will play into the group’s hands is its experience against the front on the other side of the ball.

“I think we have one of the best defensive lines in the state,” LeCroy said. “Friday nights, there is nobody better than the three or four guys we see in practice everyday.”

In addition to working against a skilled defensive front at practice, the Tigers offensive linemen are reportedly putting in extra effort in the weight room.

“I’ve been impressed with their work ethic,” Bedingfield said. “They’ve been working really hard and we’ve just go to carry that on the field with us.”

If that trend continues, Bedingfield believes the difference between the production of this year’s offensive line and last year’s will be remarkable.

“As long as we’re able to get movement off the ball, we’ll be fine,” Bedingfield said. “In order to do that, we’re going to have to work harder than anybody else.”