• November 12, 2019

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Offensive line works to become cornerstone of Bronchos' attack - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Offensive line works to become cornerstone of Bronchos' attack

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Posted: Friday, September 27, 2019 7:51 pm

One of the cornerstones of the Odessa High football team under head coach Danny Servance has been the offensive line.

Last season, the unit had plenty of experience to lean on as the Bronchos made a playoff push. Fast forward to 2019 and the line has gone through a transformation.

Seniors Louis Wilson and Joel Rodriguez are the two returning starters from last year and hold down the left side of the line at tackle and guard, respectively. And after being the ones learning, the two have transitioned into roles as leaders.

“I think we have better communication now from where we were at the start of the season,” Wilson said. “The coaches are having us talk more and putting more on our plate by picking up schemes and stuff like that.”

Like a lot of other units on the Bronchos, the first four games of the season have seen signs of growth, but room for improvement as well.

“We all need to step up,” Rodriguez said. “That goes with everything from double teaming to finishing blocks better. We’re also just trying to work with the younger guys by being more aggressive.”

Seeing both seniors making that transition as leaders is something that has been encouraging to Servance.

“I think Louis and Joel have really embraced that leadership role,” he said. “They have been guys who have been good with our younger guys especially during these first few weeks of the season where things have been up and down.”

One of the younger players, junior Austyn Reyes, is trying to make up for lost time. The lineman missed the first two games of the season due to injury but is now back in the rotation both at center and guard. Seeing what his teammates were doing on the field helped give Reyes an extra push to return to action.

“At first, it was upsetting having to deal with that injury with my first year on varsity,” he said. “But I just had to get back into it and start putting in work.”

Now he is back in the mix along with senior Humberto Melendez, who is also looking to make the most of his extended opportunity after being a backup for most of last season.

“I started off on JV, but I was there in case anyone got hurt,” Melendez said. “I got a few reps, but I did get to see the field. It felt good last year and it’s even better this year.”

Having a mix of experience and youth is one of the challenges that Servance has had to work with and on the field, players and coaches would both admit that things haven’t gone according to plan early on. That said, Servance is pleased that he has players like Wilson and Rodriguez to help guide the line.

“They could have been frustrated and been guys that were difficult to deal with,” he said. “Instead, they’ve been leaders to help guide the young guys and that’s definitely been encouraging.”

Servance also noted that the new starters have moved back to their regular positions after Reyes’ injury. Melendez is back at guard after spending time at center, while Reyes takes his spot in the rotation with fellow junior Zane Payne and sophomore Cesar Garcia Reyes. Having those players take meaningful snaps is something that Servance sees as important for both the short and long term.

“Those guys are our guys of the future and we’re going to be counting on them this year and for years to come,” he said. “A guy like Austyn is the kind of guy that we’ve had our eye on to really help us. Him being injured hurt us early, but we hope that he can contribute.”

Servance has said in the past that the offensive line has been the building block of his team and believes that this year’s line can continue to do that. The Bronchos will look to get things back going in the right direction today at home against Harlingen South in the final nondistrict game of the season. And after rushing for a season-low 83 yards last week, the unit is motivated to come out and put together a better performance.

“We have to make sure that we’re staying on our blocks and finish out on those blocks,” Wilson said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t run the ball as well as we did and we just need to be better about that. We have to be more accountable and make sure that we get everything done that we need to.”

Odessa, TX

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