Northside’s offensive line “can be better” than last season

Published 6:24 pm Thursday, July 25, 2019

PINETOWN — Without quality offensive line play, even the best offenses can be ineffective. The offensive line is likely the most important group on the field, and the Panthers are going to need their boys up front to produce this season.

There is some returning game experience on the offensive line, but there are also some guys who are still learning, according to head coach Keith Boyd.

“Well, we’re going to be young in some places, but we got some experience, too. It’s a mixed bag,” Boyd said. “Matthew Adams is probably going to anchor us in the middle. We got some JV guys that played last year we think could be pretty good players, but they haven’t seen the lights pop on Friday nights, yet.”

Fred Taylor, Landon Cahoon and Jon’Malik Freeman will also likely see playing time on the offensive line this year. Senior Clark O’neal will play the tight end position and help guide a relatively young offensive line.

Regardless of some new faces on the varsity line this season, Boyd is still optimistic about how they will perform.

“I think there’s a learning curve there, but we think we can be better up front than last year, we’re hoping,” Boyd said. “We got a little bigger and stronger. There might be a tad of inexperience, but we’re hoping to grow from there. We’ll have some size, and we’ve done really well in the weight room this year. We’re expecting big things, but when you’re dealing with kids who are a little young or inexperienced, you got to understand there’s going to be some growing pains.”

Adams, the versatile, senior offensive lineman may move around a bit before the beginning of the season to find the best spot according to Boyd, but Adams says the group up front got some experience playing JV last season.

“We’ve got some playing time together as a group,” Adams said. “A lot of those guys were playing JV last year so they had playing time, now they just have to really step up playing at the varsity level.”

Adams mentioned a couple of things the Panthers offensive line needs to fix before the beginning of the season.

“Probably staying with our blocks a little longer,” Adams said. “Also, memorizing the plays a little more. That’s probably our biggest hitch.”

The Panthers are trying to expand their offense a bit to display multiple looks, and Boyd said that it’s difficult to do that in the summer.

“The only thing about it is we’re a small school, so you’ll have Johnny out there today, and Max tomorrow. So you’re steadily re-teaching somebody new. It’s hard to get continuity right now, but what it does do on the flip side, is develop depth for yourself.”

The North Carolina High School Athletics Association breaks up the summer workouts a few weeks every summer with several dead periods, but they’ve all ended and summer workouts wrap up next week. All football players begin mandatory practices Aug. 1.