RAMSEUR — All season long, Eastern Randolph High School quarterback Carter Revelle has made plays through the air and on the ground.
Running backs Lucas Smith and Kobe Walker have experienced a wealth of success running the ball.
Nicah Taylor, Timmy Brower, Rayden West and Desean Shamburger have gobbled up huge real estate after hauling in passes.
But without this special group of Wildcats, Revelle, Smith, Walker, Taylor, Brower, West and Shamburger wouldn’t be able to do the things they have accomplished.
The ER offensive line has been nothing short of spectacular this season — led by a trio of seniors — and it was fantastic again last week as the Wildcats earned a berth into the fourth round of the state 1-A playoffs with a 40-19 victory over Thomasville.
With three touchdowns in the first half and three more in the second, ER captured its 12th straight win to improve to 12-1 and set up a playoff rematch with powerful Mount Airy. It was the Granite Bears who eliminated the Wildcats last year in the third round and went on to win the state 1-A title.
In earning its third playoff win this season, ER relied on a potent running attack, a solid game by Revelle through the air and an offensive line that certainly opened holes, kept Revelle clean and bullied their way through a very quick, fast and impressive Thomasville defense.
“These guys come in and I tell them they are joining a unit that is pretty special around here,” ER offensive line coach Daniel Ritter said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do. We don’t get the spotlight. We’re out here grinding every play and we’re not touching the ball. Those guys understand that and they take pride in that and block to the whistle on every play.”
Seniors Jani Norwood, Troy Green and Ladaryan Spinks, junior Will Stalker, sophomore Eber Castanon and freshman Maddox Carson have sparked an ER offense that has generated 509 points this season, an average of nearly 40 points per game.
It was especially important for Carson and Castanon to perform above their years when starter Ian Moore went down with an injury.
“We just come to practice every day ready to work,” said Norwood, who will be headed to UNC Chapel Hill in January. “We know every game, the whole game, it starts with us. We set the tone. We know if we come out and do the things we need to do, everything will go smooth.”
There hasn’t been a whole lot of times when things haven’t gone smoothly for the ER offense. The Wildcats have scored 147 in playoff wins over Cherryville, Hayesville and Thomasville.
“The way we communicate so well and when it comes down to it, we’re there for each other,” said Green, who joined the OL as a senior. “Every game feels like it’s on us.”
Any coach will say everything starts up front and the Wildcats have a solid up front.
“We have different schemes for different fronts,” Spinks said. “We’re headhunters. We just want to get it done.”
All agree that communication is the most important skill in a tight-knit OL.
“As you go along in the playoffs, you’re starting to see bigger and better guys,” Ritter said. “They are talking all the while until the ball is snapped. They are communicating. Whenever we are clicking like that, our offense is clicking.”
“We’re talking about making sure we have good doubles, make sure everyone knows their assignments so we can get Lucas through the hole,” Norwood said.
Last Friday was a perfect example of how important the OL is as ER ran for 223 yards and threw for 247. A team can’t put up those numbers without a stout offensive line.
“We have to be versatile,” Ritter said. “We have to be able to sit back and protect and we have to be able to cram it down your throat. We have to get out on screens. Once these guys buy into ‘I am about to get into the trenches and get to work,’ they’re a different kind of animal you have in there.”
One that certainly deserves its share of the spotlight.