With 1,200-yard rusher Joe Randall and several other skilled players returning, the group under the microscope in Alvord as the season nears is the offensive line.
The unit is looking to replace a pair of starters to fill in around center Evyn Beasly, guard Hunter Talon and tackle Hayden Tillison.
Through the first week of practice, Alvord coach Pete Hart is encouraged by the progress of the group. Their first test will be at 6 p.m. Saturday against Era in a scrimmage.
“We’re looking at eight players and trying to find five,” said Hart. “We have eight or nine linemen that we believe can perform at a high level.
“Going in, that was a concern. But at this point, they’ve done a good job. We’re watching to see if the chemistry is there.”
Beasly agreed with Hart that the unit is coming together.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “We’ve simplified the blocking schemes. We have a lot of options on the offensive line.”
As they play, Tillison said the group will get better.
“We’re coming along,” he said. “The key for the offensive line is communication and trusting each other to do the job.”
With a back like Randall, who is nearing 3,000 yards for his career, and an experienced quarterback in Cassidy Patterson, Beasly said the group just needs to slow defenders down for an instant to open up opportunities for the playmakers.
“We just need to hold on for a few seconds and then get some down field blocks for Joe,” Beasly said.