On the front line

At 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, Clovis coaches believe junior Kendall Richards can develop into a force at offensive tackle. Richards is expected to be one of four new starters on the offensive line. CNJ photo by Rick White

By Rick White

Alex Everett is crossing the line for the Clovis Wildcats.

With just one returning starter along the offensive line, Everett is being asked to play on both sides of the ball until a suitable replacement can be found for him at right guard.

He’s also penciled at defensive tackle, where he started last year as a junior. He said he prefers chasing down ball carriers to blocking for them, but is willing to help out where he can.

“I’ll play (offense) all year if I have to,” Everett said during a break in Saturday’s practice. “It would be nice to play just one way but it’s not really a problem.”

With a pre-district schedule that includes games against the Class 5A state champion and runner-up in the first month of the season, second-year Wildcats line coach Joaquin Garcia said an inexperienced offensive line will have to grow up in a hurry. If not, the Wildcats could be in trouble early.

As the only returning starter, senior center Jonathan Fails is being counted on for leadership and stability until the rest of the unit makes the transition to a faster, more physical game.

“He’s going to have to step up,” Garcia said. “He’s done a really good job so far.”

Juniors Aaron Simon (6-3, 220) and Kendall Richards (6-3, 290) give the Wildcats nice size at the tackles spot while senior Jared Brown has the inside track at guard opposite Everett.

Garcia said the Wildcats have much more depth than last year.

“These guys do a great job of pushing each other in practice and they’ve really been battling for positions,” he said.
Fails likes what he’s seen so far during spring practice and the first week of fall drills.

“They’re learning really fast,” Fails said. “The thing is this year we’re a lot more like a family and we get along a lot better.”

Everett said the line is being asked to do a lot more pulling this season in front of senior quarterback John Props and senior running back Phillip Williams.

“It’s our job to get out in front of them,” Everett said. “With their speed and elusiveness all we have to do is get in the way of the defenders and they can do the rest.”