MT. VERNON —
Behind Reeves is fullback Graham Henken, a junior. The two halfback positions could be a mix of players. Sophomores Braden Fitzjerrells and Drew Hester are in the group along with returners Demontez Miller-Grey, Lloyd and Robert Grider. Shaner said he was pleased with the group and competition at the position.
“Their knowledge, their assignments, there's some athletes that can get out and run,” Shaner said. “We've got a couple new sophomores who are pushing guys and some good competition.”
The Rams also have some experience returning on the offensive line. Four seniors – Cody O' Neal, Tyler Bradley, Josh Bourland and Eli Phillips – will all play roles trying to open holes for running backs and protect Reeves. Junior Alex Hopkins also joins the group.
One change for the offense will be Doug Gardner's role. A season ago Gardner lined up in the backfield as a half back, but the Rams have pressed him into wide receiver duty. Gardner has been playing the wide receiver position throughout the summer, adapting to the new position.
“He's really done a good job with that,” Shaner said. We asked him kind of early on in the summer as we were getting ready for team camp to move out to receiver. We're a little bit more thin at that position, we felt. Doug has great hands. He's a physical, strong kid, a good perimeter blocker.”
Mt. Vernon enters the season with a small rotation at receiver. Jacobee Marshall will miss the opening two games because of a suspension. Shaner said once Marshall returns there will be a decision made on how to move forward at the position. Week three could mean pairing both receivers or moving Gardner somewhere else in the offense.
“We'll just have to kind of evaluate what makes our team the strongest,” Shaner said.