GUARDING THE YARD: Terriers return offensive bite to lineup

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The Terriers return this season, boasting an experienced offense and sizable threat on defense.

The team is returning nine of its 11 offensive starters from last season, only losing a fullback and a center.

“On the offensive lines side, we’re going to have the fortunate opportunity of possibly having a fully-slated senior offensive line,” said Vandebilt High School coach Mark King.

King takes over the throne for the first time this season as the Terrier’s head coach. He was an assistant coach for the team for four years prior.

Senior Evan Mistich returns this season at quarterback.

“He’s as good of an athlete as I’ve been around in high school,” King said. “When it’s nut-cutting time and the game’s on the line, he wants the football. And that’s the kind of mentality you got to have with our offense.”

King described the team’s offense as being a multiple I-set that runs a lot of Veer option.

He also said Mistich runs a high 4.5, low 4.6. in the 40.

But, King doesn’t want to put all his eggs in one basket with Mistich. Unlike last season, he plans to keep the starting quarterback from returning kicks.

“We’re going to try to keep him out of that role this year, because we need him to stay healthy,” King said.

Though, he explained, Mistich might be used in some two-minute and third-and-long situations in the secondary.

Also returning to give the Terrier’s offense more bite are senior wide receivers Jeremy Lecompte and Braden Eschete.

Dexter Smith and Curtis Welch are battling to see who will be top dog and snag the starting tailback slot.

Welch was the starter and a 1,000-yard rusher last season.

King said Smith played a little for them last season, but has made tremendous progress in the backfield since.

“With those two guys at tailback, it still remains to be seen who’s going to end up as the starter at tailback,” King said. “We’re going to try to get into some sets that gets both of those guys on the field at the same time. If we can do that and do a good job with it, it’s going to give us a lot of threats.”

Defensively, the team lost six of its 11 starters.

And it’s going from a 3-5 stack defense to a 4-3.

King said the defensive players like the simplicity the 4-3 offers.

“It’s a straightforward, a really aggressive style of defense. There’s nothing real complicated about it. The kids are taking to it real well and I know they like it a lot,” King said.

Division I defensive tackle Joel Ross returns this season to instill fear in opposing offenses.

“Joel is 6-foot-2 and about 312 (pounds). And when he plays at his level and he decides that he’s not going to be blocked, he literally will not be blocked,” King said.

And linebacker Ches Morrison reclaims his starting position this season after leading the team in tackles last year as a freshman.

“With those two guys in the middles, if they produce like they should, we should be pretty solid in the middle,” King said.

Vandebilt opens its season Friday at the Thibodaux Jamboree.