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Offensive line expected to be Pride's strength in 2011

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Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 8:00 am

The Mountain Pointe spring football session came to an end with coach Norris Vaughan and his staff talking to each player about what role they were expected to have in the fall and what needed to be done between now and then.

With Vaughan's communication style the conversations are probably pretty direct and leave no doubt as to where anyone stands.

The one unit that is most prepared for next season is probably the offensive line. There is a good mix of returning starters, new faces, plenty of size and chemistry.

"The offensive line is the foundation of an offense," Vaughan said. "Nowadays with the spread offense maybe some people don't see it that way, but in our system, the way we like to run the ball, it is."

The excitement about the unit in part stems from last season's struggles up front. There was a time in mid-season that the Pride had to use a different line every week because of injuries and discipline problems. It gave experience to players who might not have seen the field otherwise.

The holdovers are junior Bryce Hurd, junior Raynon Blackshire, junior Kyle Luis, junior R.J. Hollis and freshman Natrell Curtis.

Last year, Hurd played part of the year out of position, Blackshire was the center, Luis was the utility guy filling in wherever they needed him, Hollis was an in-season transfer from Desert Vista, who found the field late in the season, and Curtis showed promise before a knee injury ended his year.

During the spring Hurd was back to his natural position at center, Blackshire was a backup as he will be featured on defense, Luis appears to be a utility-type guy while Hollis, at tackle, and Curtis, at guard, make up the right side of the line.

The left side of the line should feature Jacob "Binky" Davis at guard and sophomore Kenny Lacey at tackle. Both players transferred as Davis came from Laveen Betty H. Fairfax and Lacey came from Laveen Cesar Chavez.

Depth comes from sophomores Logan Huber and Logan Lederhos.

"We have a great chemistry," said Hollis, who played both ways toward the end of last season as the Pride made a run to the state semifinals. "That was the most important thing this spring. We work well together and built a little family."

The projected starting five could be one of the biggest around as Lacey is 6-foot-4, 245 pounds; Hollis is 6-4, 280; Hurd is 6-4, 255; Curtis is 6-2, 295; and Davis is 6-1, 300.

Vaughan was pleased with their work and said Hollis and Hurd developed into leaders the unit needed.

"They had tremendous springs and getting a lot of (college) looks," he said. "I expect they will get a lot of college offers."

Those types of decisions will come in time. Right now, as the team heads into 7-on-7 passing tournaments and offseason workouts, what matters is the team's confidence after it lost quarterback Kyle Faunce because his father took a job in Indiana.

Quarterbacks Caleb Buck, a sophomore who started at JV last season, and junior Dillan Johnson, a running back getting his first reps at QB, did enough to calm any fear, but really with the talent on the line the Pride offense is going to be healthy no matter who is going to be behind center.

"We know what we can do and how important that is going to be for our success," Hurd said. "I think when everything got bad (with Faunce's departure) everyone looked to us (for stability) because they knew we'd be strong."

One of the football axioms is that it all starts in the trenches, and it was pretty clear after three weeks of spring ball that Mountain Pointe is ready to go to work in that area.

"This is the best offensive line we've had," Vaughan said. "Raynon Blackshire was All (East Valley)-Region and we are looking at him to be a backup. We think we can be pretty darn good along the line."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
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  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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