The Community Braves consistently put out a strong rushing attack, thanks in large part to the development group of their offensive line.
That development starts with the return of two starters to lead the way. The Braves are led by Stevie Hopper on the offensive line. The two-time all-district center enters his senior season full of confidence and coach Dustin Blann feels that he can lead this group to great success.
“He’s just a tremendous offensive lineman and leader for us,” Blann said. “It’s huge to bring able to bring back our center and a kid like Stevie takes it to another level. He’s a leader on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom. He’s vocal and everything you want at the position.”
Alongside Hopper, Jack Durkin makes the move from left tackle to left guard for Community. With the Wing-T offense in place, guards become one of the most important positions to manage for the team. Coach Blann said Durkin’s athleticism is making for a seamless transition.
“It’s to take advantage of his ability to move in the concepts of what we do,” Blann said. “We’ve been working hard at developing the total athlete and being versatile on the line. We’ve got guys at the tackle spots we feel like can really move bodies and play big, but at the guard, we have versatility in being able to attack defenses.”
Along with two returning players, Community has shown early this offseason an eagerness to get better and be physical on the offensive line. The team won their division at the Melissa LineMan challenge, qualifying for the state meet in Abilene later this month.
With a group already showing its strength, coach Blann was quick to credit the kids and the coaching staff for their hard work during the offseason.
“I have terrific coaches that do a great job getting us prepared for the season and working on our powerlifting programs,” Blann said. “Our coaches create good relationships with our kids and they create a weight room that kids want to be at. The kids buy-in and compete at a high level and then our younger guys buy-in. There’s been a lot of emphasis on basketball on grass and we love our skill guys, but we feel like at the end of the day games are won and lost on the line of scrimmage.”
Competing for spots on the offensive line, Community has shown plenty of depth this offseason with Eric Glasscock, Jaylen Clark, Jerrod Denny, Dylan Murray and Joseph Smith all competing for a position. Smith has varsity experience from last season but is moving from the defensive line to the offensive line this year.
Overall, coach Blann is excited about the youthful energy in the Braves program.
“We’re excited for the young guys we have for us,” Blann said. “We were able to go win our division in the LineMan challenge and the young guys have done so much to get prepared for this season. We have a strong weight room culture on the offensive line and they’re focused on getting bigger and stronger.”
At the tackle position, Jack Scott and Logan Ireland are battling for the two tackle positions. Scott is a rising junior that coach Blann said has really worked hard to develop and get in a position to earn that starting job.
Ireland is a rising senior, but is a player who’s been biding for his time at the varsity level.
“Logan learned behind one of our top players last season in senior Cooper Walker,” Blann said. “Coop is going on to play college football and Logan worked hard and learned a lot from him and we’re expecting big things.”
With nine players competing for a potential varsity starting position, coach Blann said he’s excited for the depth of his team.
“I feel like we have 10 starters right now with what we do,” Blann said. “There’s going to be some great competition to earn those roles and it will make us even better. We could even rotate the guys on offense similar to how we do defensively.”
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By Kyle Grondin • email@example.com