Veteran O-Line Ushers in New Daingerfield Quarterbacks
DAINGERFIELD -- Replacing a 3,000-yard passer isn't easy, but Daingerfield will have a veteran offensive front to protect whoever runs the Tigers' typically high-powered offense.
Second-year head coach Aric Sardinea led his team through practice in the old Daingerfield High School gym Wednesday because of rain, but the Tigers still got in some work, which included offensive walk-throughs featuring their two new quarterbacks: Edwin Mims (5-9, 180) and Keris Alexander. Those two players will be asked to replace Alex Allen, who threw 36 touchdown passes and ran for 10 scores in 2011.
Sardinea is confident in both new quarterbacks, and not only because he knows each is talented. The guys protecting Mims and Alexander should give the duo plenty of chances to shine.
"If I can hang my hat on one thing right now I'm hoping it's going to be the offensive line. We have every kid back from last year on the offensive line," Sardinea said. "They are some big-sized kids and hopefully we can move some people around. That's what we're teaching them right now and preaching to them: be physical. Our two backs from last year we have coming back. They're only going to be juniors, so we feel like we're going to be able to run the football well.
"And those two quarterbacks, they're not bad, so we'll be able to do a lot of good things."
Fernando Rodriguez (6-2, 250), Donovan Dublin (6-0, 275), and Malik Ellis (6-3, 255) are three of Daingerfield's veteran offensive linemen. Nose tackle Jacolby Simpson (6-0, 280), who anchors Daingerfield's defense, will play right tackle and give the Tigers even more heft up front.
"I think the linemen are going to be the biggest key," Mims said. "They're going to be the strong part of the offense. The running game should be very strong."
Ramius Wallace (5-10, 165) is one of the the aforementioned junior tailbacks. Wallace ran for 682 yards and 11 touchdowns on 6.8 yards per carry in 2011. He'll get more carries this season as he becomes an even more important part of Daingerfield's offense.
But everything will start with Mims and Alexander. Mims was one of Allen's top targets last season, catching 44 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns.
"We're going to have some packages for both of them to play quarterback. They've looked good through the spring and they've looked good through 7-on-7, so they've both had a good offseason," Sardinea said. "We're going to look to put both of them on the field sometimes."
Mims is confident in Daingerfield's receiving corps, which includes some familiar faces and a couple of new ones. Seniors Shawn Hooks and Jonathan Barber could be two key pass-catchers after gaining some experience in 2011.
"We've got a couple of receivers that are back, but we also have a couple of receivers that a lot of people don't know about right now," Sardinea said, "so we're hoping those kids will be exposed in a couple of weeks and we'll be able to throw the ball around to those guys."
Defensively, the Tigers have a lot more youth, but one player they can depend on is cornerback Ruben Mims (5-9, 165). He'll join Simpson and linebacker Calvin Bryant (5-9, 160) as veterans Daingerfield must lean on early.
The Tigers hope to improve on the 25.3 points per game they allowed last season.
"The DBs are kind of young and we've got a lot of new people in there," Ruben Mims said. "Since I was one of the only returning starters, I'm one of the leaders on defense so I'm trying to teach these younger guys the system and everything. They're coming along good, though. They're really learning."
That's also what Ruben Mims said about the two quarterbacks, who aren't entering unprecedented territory replacing someone of Allen's caliber.
After all, Allen had to replace three-time state champion Tyler Boyd, who took over the reins from district MVPs Jarred Hill and Germayne Edmond. It's just part of the tradition for six-time state champion Daingerfield.
"So far we're doing good," Edwin Mims said. "This group here, we like to work."