Last year, Mainland’s offensive line progressed from a liability to a team strength.
Once the Bucs committed to the running game, their season took off. After starting out with a 1-3 record, they rushed for 325 yards against Seabreeze in Week 5 and proceeded to win five of their final six regular season games to make the playoffs for the 28th straight year.
This season, Mainland coach Travis Roland said there is no doubt the line will be one of the strongest units on a team brimming with talent at every position.
“The game starts and ends with them. There’s nobody better than those guys. They took a lot of scrutiny last year, early in the year, and they became our strength, and we expect it to stay the same.”
— TRAVIS ROLAND
“The game starts and ends with them,” Roland said of the linemen. “There’s nobody better than those guys. They took a lot of scrutiny last year, early in the year, and they became our strength, and we expect it to stay the same.”
The offensive line helped Mainland defeat University High 28-0 in a half of action at the A-1 Officials Association scrimmages Aug. 13 at Flagler Palm Coast.
“They set the tone early,” Roland said of the O-linemen. “They showed dominance early.”
“I think we did great,” agreed senior right guard Malcom Curry. “We gave up no sacks. We ran the ball good, and we passed great. Our quarterbacks had a lot of time.”
The Bucs, who travel to Matanzas for a kickoff classic Friday, Aug. 19, appear to be ready for the start of the season. Quarterback Damarcus Creecy, who transferred from Spruce Creek in the offseason, helped Mainland jump out to a 28-0 first-quarter lead, and the defense kept the Titans off the scoreboard.
“He had a great football game,” Roland said. “That’s why he won the job. He’s the best quarterback around here, maybe in Central Florida. And he’s going to continue to prove that. He has the best targets he’s ever had in his career. He’s never had kids like this to throw the ball to with Ajai Harrell, Man-Man (Clarence McCloud), James (Randle) and Jonathan Williams. This is the first time he’s had some real speed to throw to, so he’s excited about it.”
The Bucs also showed off their four-man running back committee which has grown into a five-man rotation.
“Jackie Bowdry catches the ball well (out of the backfield). He scored a touchdown, so he’s a fifth one,” Roland said. “I think they all played well. I’m excited about them, and we’ll just continue to use all of them, every one of them. They all have different skillsets. Some of them are big guys, some of them are fast guys. We’ll play every last one of them.”
They’ll have blockers in front of them who are now proficient in every wrinkle of the offense.
“I would say pass (protection) was the problem early last year, picking up blitzes and different stuff,” Campbell said. “We’re finally seeing a blitz, picking it up. I feel like we’re going to be balanced this year, keep everyone on their toes.”
The defense, meanwhile, can’t help but be good, because it goes up against the Bucs’ offense every day in practice, Roland and Curry said.
“They work hard every day,” said Curry, who also plays noseguard in goal-line situations. “They have to go against us, so we give them that work, and when they come out here it’s way easy.”