October 30, 2009 9:07:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
WEST POINT -- It''s all about a mind-set for the West Point High School football team.
While some teams revel in the precision pass routes of a spread offense, the Green Wave prefer the direct approach.
It might not be elaborate, but you better may sure your helmet is on tight because the first thing your defense will see when you play West Point is a fast-charging, hard hitting offensive line that is focused on clearing running lanes.
"I know what their favorite play is, ''Power and Wedge.'' That means we''re gutting it out," West Point High coach Chris Chambless said. "That says it all right there. They love running the ball. If it was up to them, we would call a running play on every play. That is the right attitude to have with us."
West Point (8-1, 5-0 district) has run behind an offensive line of Tre Swift, LeDerrius Taylor, Lamont Randle, Seth White, Jonathon Jones, Desmond Boyd, and Michael Bush (tight end) with impressive results this season.
The Green Wave will try to take another step toward securing an outright Class 5A, Region 1, District 2 title at 7 tonight when they play host to Clarksdale.
West Point doesn''t have a host of "Hogs," a la the famed Washington Redskins offensive line that opened holes for John Riggins.
The Green Wave don''t have any bruising runners like Riggins, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, either, but running backs Xavier Hogan, Jacoby Lee, and LaKenderic Thomas and quarterback Justin Cox give the team four runners who can run equally well between the tackles or who can get to the corners to keep defenses guessing.
Chambless said the offensive linemen -- who range in weight from 188 (Bush) to 255 (Boyd and White) -- are just as athletic as the players who carry the ball.
"All of our offensive linemen can run, too," Chambless said. "If you go back and watch our film, they block real well down the field. That springs a lot of extra yards for our guys."
Randle said the offensive linemen and the running backs have each other''s backs. He said that camaraderie helps everyone stay united for a common cause. He said it is a lot of responsibility having to play to the level of past classes, but he said it is a challenge he relishes.
"We have that much pride and confidence in ourselves that we can knock that man in front of us off the ball," Randle said. "It comes from the coaches. They tell us there ain''t no one we can''t block. We practice against our starting defensive line every day, and they help get us there."
White agrees and said the offensive linemen have a simple approach: "You can''t run the ball without a good offensive line." He said that mind-set is even more focused this season.
"We had the same boys playing last year," White said. "We weren''t mature enough. We got beat pretty bad in a couple of games. We have matured a lot this year. We aren''t making mistakes as much as we did last year."
Chambless said West Point football players have a rushing attack ingrained in them at an early age. He said the coaches help that attitude grow with plenty of work in the weight room. The program''s ability to run the football creates a standard the offensive linemen have to live up to.
"It is all about being physical," Chambless said. "We want our kids to be very physical and to have that physical mind-set. The best defense you can have is a good offense, an offense that can run the clock, score points for you, and keep your defense off the field.
"They have played very well. We''re rushing for well over 250 yards per game. That says it all right there."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.