Since the end of last season, Brentsville senior offensive linemen Chase Waddle and Tommy Burke have fast-forwarded through 75 years of football, now that the Tigers plan to sprinkle some east-west sizzle into what had been a bruising north-south offensive attack.
"They sort of went from Knute Rockne to Steve Spurrier," Brentsville Coach Dean Reedy said.
That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Waddle and Burke -- the only returning starters from last season's line -- indeed will help the Tigers make good use of a more bountiful stash of skill position players. That group is led by junior running back Jay Terrell (eight total touchdowns last year) and complemented by standouts off a freshman team that finished 8-2.
The days of Wes Basham pounding into the line are over. He closed his career by totaling about 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns the past two years, with Waddle and Burke helping to spring him.
The linemen are "starting to widen the spectrum and see a different angle of the game," said Reedy, whose Tigers scored 24 of their 27 touchdowns last season on the ground. "We're not as big and brawny as we were in the past, so we're going to look at being maybe a little more fleet versus just in your face. . . . Before, we just locked on a different color [jersey] and went with it. In some ways, [now] it's easier, and in some ways, it requires them to think a little bit more."
That's fine with Waddle, who has cottoned to zone blocking -- offensive linemen working in tandem instead of matching up one-on-one with defensive linemen.
"It makes it a little easier on us," Waddle said. "The old style of football was all focused on us -- how far we could push the defensive line back. But now we just have to hold them off and give our skill positions time to do their jobs. . . . We don't have to hold blocks as long."
But, he added, Reedy "still expects us to drive the defensive line 10 yards off the ball on every play, no matter what."