The Yellow Jackets’ linemen point to a 6-0 win over Gadsden City in Week 3 as a prime motivator for them this season.
“We didn’t run the ball hardly at all that game,” head coach Ryan Herring said. “I think their coach challenged them after that game. They have gotten better since then. That game has made them work harder to be where they are right now.”
In their first three games, the Yellow Jackets averaged 15.7 points. Since Week 3, they have averaged 43.75 points a game, scoring at least 41 points six times in the eight games since then.
As Oxford (9-2) prepares for a Friday game at Bob Jones (10-1) in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, the line has helped star running back Racean Thomas rush for 2,114 yards and score 31 touchdowns.
“Back in the beginning of the year, we weren’t that good,” said senior center Konner Renfroe. “We were all decent, but we all had little fundamental things to work on. We’ve worked on them each and every day and as the year’s gone by we’re getting better everyday.”
Inexperience contributed to the early struggles. Junior guard Noah Lynch (6-foot-2, 265 pounds) was the only starter who saw significant action in 2012.
Jacob McGuffey (6-2, 220) and Cam Hill (6-1, 275) were new at tackle, and Chance Strickland (6-0, 220) was a new starter at guard. Renfroe was a senior, but that’s misleading in regards to experience. The 6-0, 270-pounder did not play football in 2012.
“I’m proud of him for coming out and sticking it out — and he starts,” Herring said. “He’s got a good attitude and takes coaching well.”
Although he is a newcomer, he has settled into his role well. As the center, it is his responsibility to “call the blocks and make sure everybody knows what to do.”
“If they have questions, I can answer them,” Renfroe said.
Lynch, the one familiar face in the trenches for Oxford this season, said he believes this year’s line is even better than last year’s.
“I think we’re playing a whole lot better this year than last year,” Lynch said. “We’re just getting better technique, working together and being more physical.”
Herring brought in a new offense when he took over in the spring. The gap-blocking scheme also plays into Lynch’s strengths.
“Noah Lynch has done a great job this year,” Herring said. “He does a great job in pretty much everything he does. He’s a real good puller. That’s one of his biggest strengths.”