The chance of rain did not keep the Tallassee football team off the field last Thursday when the Tigers hosted Dadeville and Talladega for a session of organized team activities (OTAs). The three teams started with separate position drills before coming together for 11-on-11 plays to end the day.
“I thought today was awesome,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “Everybody got a lot of reps today, everybody improved and everybody got to go against someone other than your own teammates. That’s what it was all about. I thought it went above and beyond what I expected.”
The day started with a modified version of linemen drills which included a full backfield and linebackers on defense. Each offense lined up with five linemen, two running backs and a quarterback and ran rushing plays at an opposing defense.
Tallassee looked to be ahead of the competition during the rushing drills and that translated into success on the ground during the 11-on-11 drills as well. Battles said he has been pleased with how the backfield has performed but he believes it starts at the line of scrimmage.
“We’re head and shoulders where we were at the beginning of the summer,” Battles said. “Our offensive line is starting to gel and our backs are starting to feel more comfortable. We have such a young team so this summer has been really good for us.”
Tallassee lost all five starters from last season’s offensive line but the replacements have shown a lot of promise already during the offseason. This year, Battles expects the starting offensive line to have four sophomores and one junior and he is already excited to see how they progress over their high school careers.
The Tigers saw more of their young players contribute to the run game during Thursday’s OTAs. Running backs Zavion Carr, Jaylin Daniels and Marciano Smith all had big days carrying the ball for Tallassee and their impact was felt by each team.
“I think our running game has progressed the most of any part of our offense,” Battles said. “The offensive line has some young kids but they started to really play as one today. When our line blocks well, our backs are really fast. They can run really well but it all starts with the offensive line.”
The running backs have split carries throughout the offseason and Battles said he expects the Tigers to run a running back by committee during the season. While finding a go-to guy will be important for crucial situations, Battles said having depth at running back could be the strength of the offense if the trio continues to perform the way it has during summer workouts.
The rushing game could be crucial to the Tigers’ success on offense as the quarterback battle continues with less than six weeks to go until the opening game. However, Battles said he is confident in both Tyler Ellis and Trace Ledbetter to start for the Tigers and he felt like both players had good days against Dadeville and Talladega.
“I thought both of them did some good things and I thought there some things they could both improve on,” Battles said. “Tyler made some good throws but he still has to make good decisions with the ball. Trace makes plays but they both just have to get more comfortable with the offense.”
Thursday’s camp came on the heels of a scrimmage with Holtville last Tuesday and Battles said he saw improvement during the short time between competitions.
“I thought a lot of our kids improved today,” Battles said. “We all got a little bit better.”