New Line Scheme Could Pay Dividends

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The flip-flopping of Longhorn offensive linemen this past week could crank up a ground game that never hit on all cylinders in a 26-6 season-opening win over Glendale Cortez.

The strategy of moving the starting guards to tackles and tackles to guards will be unveiled at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, in Longhorn stadium against the Notre Dame Saints.

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The Longhorn offensive line will take on a new look in tonight's (Friday) game against visiting Notre Dame. The guards will be playing tackle and the tackles have been moved to guard. Kickoff is 7 p.m. in Longhorn stadium.

Former tackles Kevin Allen and Donnie Engler spent the past week playing the guard positions. Seniors Greg Barnes and Nick DeGroot, who have played guard since both were freshmen, are now manning the tackle slots.

Because Engler and Allen are two of the bigger linemen on the team, the move will give the Horns more bulk inside where fullback Tyler Williams runs the dive plays.

At Tuesday's practice, head coach Jerry Rhoades said the changes would be for the entire game.

If the strategy is successful, Williams will be able to pound his way inside, quarterback Donnie Wilbanks can run the keeper on the option, and tailback Luke Apfel will find room to scoot around end with laterals from Wilbanks.

A three-pronged attack like that will be tough for Notre Dame's 4-3 defense to contain.

Although the Saints were on the receiving end of a 57-13 rear-end kicking from state No. 10 ranked Sunnyslope Aug. 27, Rhoades is impressed with the team.

"They are well-disciplined and well coached," he said. "Plus, I think they have some (transfers) from St. Mary's which should help them."

Notre Dame, an affluent parochial school in north Scottsdale, is fielding its first ever varsity team and is playing an independent schedule this year.

Scouting reports of the Saints indicate a good-sized right tackle, No. 79, anchors the "O" line. Many of their running plays are behind him.

Notre Dame's bread and butter is the isolation plays and traps, but they have a few gimmicks up their sleeves with unbalanced lines, quick counts, bootlegs and three-receiver sides, or "trips."

The defensive keys to putting the clamps on the Saints' passing game will be to be in the correct secondary coverage and to recognize the unbalanced line, then cover all eligible receivers.

Stopping the running game will be a matter of filling the gaps where the isolation plays are being run and not being fooled by the counters and misdirection plays.

Next up

With a win tonight, the Horns will improve to 2-0 and set up a non-region showdown Sept. 10 against Apache Junction. Game time is 7 p.m. in Longhorn stadium.

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