PERFECTING THE POSITION: ACCS linemen pave way for successful season

Published 12:01 am Monday, November 2, 2015

ACCS lineman JO Adams. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

ACCS lineman JO Adams. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Christian School Rebels were built to bulldoze teams with size upfront and tough durable backs.

But as the 2015 season progressed, quarterback Carlos Woods showcased accuracy in the passing game, while receivers Shaverick Williams and George Scott stretched the field vertically. Suddenly, an offensive line that boasts two linemen that weigh more than 280 pounds had to adapt.

“Well, we definitely had to learn how to pass block better,” ACCS lineman JO Adams said. “As the season progressed, we started passing more, and for us, a team that’s built to run block, that was a challenge.”

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The challenge proved tougher for Chris Sikes, who would much rather bully opponents around the line of scrimmage rather than set his feet and pass block. Sikes admitted playing against quick, athletic defensive ends forced him to elevate his game and evolve as an offensive lineman.

“It was hell blocking (Cathedral High School’s) Will Wallace,” Sikes said. “He was just quick, and I wasn’t used to playing against those caliber players. That made me realize I had to work on my feet and my quickness. But we’re getting a lot better at pass blocking every week.”

ACCS head coach David King said the talent and potential of the offensive line is obviously there, but the size of this unit forced him to change some of his blocking schemes.

“Pass blocking is a lot more difficult to teach in high school because you have different fronts to account for and blitzing,” King said. “We do a lot of rollouts, too, so it’s a process of working at it. It’s just like everything, it gets better every week because of more practice and experience.”

En route to a 10-0 season, Woods, Williams, Scott and running back Chisum Mardis received praise for their highlight reels. Meanwhile, Adams, Sikes, Daniel Campbell, Morgan Nettles and Justin Greene quietly created holes and passing windows for the Rebels to go undefeated.

At the mention of the undefeated regular season, Nettles couldn’t help but smile in disbelief.

“I only know one person who thought we were going to go undefeated, and I didn’t believe him,” Nettles said. “He was a friend of my uncle’s at hunting camp, and he was right.”

While pass blocking for Woods seemingly never ends — Woods has expanded multiple passing plays with his feet and evasiveness in the pocket this season — run blocking for Mardis has proven to be short and sweet. When Mardis receives the handoff, the team’s true identity takes center stage, as grit is called upon.

“He’s hard-nosed,” Adams said. “I think I might have seen him lose yards twice this year. When you give him the ball, you know he’s going to fight for yardage. It comforts us a little more. When you had Trey (Fleming), you never let go of your guy because he’s going sideways, this way, that way. But with Chisum, he’s going to make one cut and he’s going straight.”

In the midst of a historic season, do the big boys up front receive praise? Sometimes, Adams said. For the most part, though, dominating the game up front is expected from a coaching staff that expects them to be great.

“When the game is going good, it’s the backs,” Adams said. “When it’s going bad, it’s us. That’s the way it’s been since football was started. That’s the way it will always be.”