Any time a team is breaking in a new varsity quarterback, it’s going to mean some growing pains. That’s exactly what’s on the slate for Dadeville’s football team as it plans to start a sophomore quarterback this season.
What that means is two-fold. First, the Tigers are going to need to rely heavily on their offensive line to give their new quarterback some time to get comfortable and throw the football. Secondly, the Tigers will need their defense to keep them in games.
Those were two big topics of conversation for Dadeville at the 2019 Fox Sports High School Football Media Days on Wednesday at Southern Union State Community College.
“(The line of scrimmage) is definitely important,” said Max McClendon, a returning starter on the defensive line who will also play on the offensive line this season. “Ever since I was a freshman, we’ve always pretty much dominated the line of scrimmage. Especially our defensive line, we’ve been pretty stacked. Definitely to win ballgames, we’re going to have to be a force to be reckoned with to free up our linebackers and let everybody do their job so things can go better.”
The defense shouldn’t be an issue. Although the Tigers return just five or six starters on the defensive side of the ball, that was their strength a year ago. The Dadeville offense averaged just 23.5 points per game last season, but it actually outscored its opponents as the defense held its competitors to 23.4 points per game. Dadeville actually allowed the third least amount of points in Class 3A Region 3 in 2018, behind only region winner St. James and runner-up Beulah.
“Any time you have a kid playing quarterback for the first time at the varsity level, you just don’t want to sit out there and throw him to the wolves and expect him to win ballgames because that’s not going to happen,” Dadeville coach Richard White said. “We’re going to have to rely on our offensive line and our defense to keep us in ballgames until he gets more comfortable with what he’s doing.”
Both McClendon and Jamauri Chislom, who was also present at Wednesday’s Media Days, will play on the offensive line this year as well.
“We’ve definitely had some learning curves,” McClendon said. “This will be our first year actually getting on the offensive line so it’s just a little learning curve trying to get ready for the season. But I think it’s going to be something we’ll adapt to and we’ll ultimately be way better this season because we’re getting better this summer.”
Chislom said, “I feel good about this season. Everybody is excited and they’re getting stronger, faster and better. Everyone is just ready to play.”
McClendon and Chislom’s teammates both echoed those sentiments as seniors Josh Taylor and Jamarion Wilkerson, who were also at Media Days, are hungry to return the Tigers to the playoffs after missing them for the last two years.
“Basically everybody knows what we have to do this year,” Taylor said. “In the weight room and in the spring, everybody knew what they had to do. In just a few more weeks we have to put the pads on. We’ve been pushing around on each other and lifting weights, so now we’re ready.”