The Caroline High School varsity football team displayed the 2013 version of its spread offense and 3-4 defense in scrimmages on Aug. 16 against Colonial Heights and Patrick Henry High Schools.
The defense was crisp and mobile, having no problem stopping whatever offense was put in their path. The offense, with sophomore quarterback Rashaad Harris at the helm, flowed smoothly through plays, easily moving the ball on the run as well as in the air.
The 3–4 defense is so named because it involves three down linemen and four linebackers. There are usually four defensive backs.
In the midst of the team there was a lot of energy that has not been felt in previous years, with players shouting encouragement to one another, joyfully slapping one another on pads and being a part of the game even from the sidelines.
Head Coach Jeremiah Ross remained cautiously optimistic about the play when asked by merely stating, “We have some things to work on.”
Both the offensive and defensive systems, according to Ross, are the same as last year, with some tweaking done to fit the players on this year’s team. Ross stated that his goal is to teach each player how to play their positions so that when a game situation occurs, they will know what to do.
“In any situation, it is 10 percent occurrence and 90 percent how to handle it,” Ross said. “I drill into each player: Do your job, play hard, be physical, and love each other.”
With the past year together in the weight room, the 2013 Cavaliers have come out stronger mentally as well as physically, Ross noted. In addition to working with weights, team members have had additional activities designed to build a team mentality. Many have attested to the mental toughness they are carrying into this season that will help them play not only more physically, but smarter as well.
Utilizing a no huddle offense, Caroline hopes to push the tempo of the game with a mobility designed to offset the defense. Starting with Harris at quarterback, there will be a lot of options, allowing the Cavaliers to attack both on the run and vertically thanks to a strong and versatile corps of receivers in Tyler Dudley, Keshawn Johnson, Odie Leacock, Jaquan Monroe and the strength of senior running back Brando Garcia. Junior Dylan Roberts anchors an offensive line that comes back from last year stronger and faster, with additional blocking movement built into the system.
In a 3-4 defense that seems to be in constant motion, Oliver Johnson, from his vantage point at the nose guard position, said, “We look forward to a good year. The defense is much more fluid and keeps the quarterback on the opposing offense flat footed.”
Senior Chad Boxley promotes his mantra this year as “Hard work pays off!” He will be seen on both sides of the line. From the linebacker position, Boxley will be stopping holes in the offensive line designed for running backs to travel through and then go on offense to deliver the bone crushing running style as a ball carrier for which he has become known to all Cavalier football fans.
When asked about this year’s team, Boxley commented, “The difference this year is discipline. Everyone has worked hard. We haven’t worked this hard in years.”
Aug. 29 opens the season for the Cavaliers at Glen Allen High School. Although Glen Allen has not had a football team for that long, Coach Ross is not taking them lightly.
“Each week we are shooting for a 1-0 record,” Ross said. “Each game and each practice, we take it one day at a time.”