Davie Football: Offensive line experienced and big

Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Sports Editor

Davie’s offense has a terrific combination at quarterback (Ty Miller) and running back (Markel Summers). Head coach Tim Devericks and offensive coordinator Matt Gould feel like they have a good group of receivers. Add those components with the offensive line, and now we’re cooking with gas.

The OL has experience (four returning starters) to go with excellent size (average weight of 276 among the starting five).

Ryder Strickland (5-10, 270) is an indispensable junior who made all-conference in 2022. He pours his heart and soul into his duties at center.

“Ryder is in charge of every call the OL has – recognizing the defense and making all of our calls,” Gould said. “He’s taken that leadership role off the field, too, getting those guys to work hard and making sure everybody’s doing right on and off the field.”

“He’s a technician,” Devericks said. “He wants to get it right every time. We put a lot on Ryder mentally, and he’s the vocal leader of that group.”

“I can say one thing to Ryder and he’s got it,” OL coach Spencer Pasciolla said. “That allows him to be a coach on the field. He takes a whole loss of stress off of our shoulders. He’s also gotten extremely strong. His background as a wrestler has really helped him. He’s not always the biggest guy out there, but he knows how to take advantage of leverage. He definitely isn’t going to let anyone push him around.”

Evan Froelich, whose brother Aidan is a freshman receiver at Brevard, is a third-year varsity starter at left tackle. The 6-3, 235-pounder prepared for his senior year with steely focus.

“He’s really worked hard in the weight room,” Devericks said. “Without losing strength, he’s transformed his body to be able to move better.”

“He’s someone who has put so much effort into improving as an offensive lineman,” Pasciolla said. “The growth he’s made from year to year has been incredible. Tackle is such a hard position to play, and he’s become so much more fluid of a mover. I’m super impressed with him and I’m happy for him because he has the frame that if he wants to go play college ball, that’s definitely on the table.”

Lining up beside Froelich at left guard will be returning starter Evan Copeland (6-3, 300), a senior who is built like Paul Bunyan.

“He would be a third-year starter, but he missed his sophomore year with a shoulder injury,” Devericks said. “He has brute strength. When we get him moving in the right direction, he creates problems.”

“Cope’s been so attentive about getting stronger and using his frame the way he’s supposed to,” Pasciolla said. “We’re going to be in a mobile scheme this year, and that’s not always easy for the big guys. He’s had some practices where we’ve pushed him really hard and he’s responded really well.”

As if Strickland, Froelich and Copeland aren’t enough to whet your appetite, there’s a returning starter at right guard – senior Kevin Lazaro (5-11, 265) – who plays with an energy that could power the lights.

“He’ll lay it on the line,” Devericks said. “He gives 110 percent and he’ll go until he can’t go anymore. The worst thing could happen and he’ll smile about it. It’s like: ‘Here we go, let’s go again.’”

“He’s just been really about football his entire time at Davie, and he’s taken huge steps forward in the past two years,” Pasciolla said. “He’s so coachable. With the air raid that we run, we’re really focussed on tempo and making sure that we’re running as fast as possible, and Kev busts his tail to be the first one in his stance because he knows how important it is for our offense to move at a certain speed. He’s an awesome teammate, always encouraging other guys.”

Jalen Alexander, a defensive lineman in 2022, might not be a returning starter like the other four, but the 6-2, 310-pound senior can break rocks.

“He’s just insanely strong,” Pasciolla said. “The things he can do when he puts his hands on somebody, it’s just fun to watch. He moves extremely well in space. He’s done a phenomenal job so far (transitioning from defense to offense). You’re really happy as a position coach when you get a guy that is that physically talented.”

“He’s really stepped up,” Gould said. “We just made that move in the summer. He’s got the athleticism and he’s got a pretty good feel for o-line, so we’re hoping he can be that solid fifth guy for us.”

“Jalen will help our team tremendously,” Devericks said.

If somebody needs a blow, if the injury bug bites, Devericks will turn to Caleb Coble, Landon Correll and/or Tripp Bradshaw. Coble (5-9, 190) is a junior. Correll (6-2, 220) is a senior who flips between guard and tackle. Bradshaw is a first-year Davie player as a senior.

“Caleb’s done a really good job of being kind of a Swiss Army knife,” Pasciolla said. “He can play pretty much any of the five positions, which is extremely valuable. Tripp’s been making a lot of progress pretty quickly for a first-year player.”