Riverdale will be counting on sophomore Tariq Walker, left, and Jaylin Barrington, an all-region selection last season, to help solidify the Raiders’ offensive line. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — Being an offensive lineman, Darrel Edosa understands there is some pressure.
A missed assignment can mean the differences between yardage gained or loss. The skill position players usually grab all the glory, but linemen are often the first blamed when the offense is not performing.
There might be some added pressure this season for Edosa and his offensive line mates at Riverdale this season. The Raiders have some big-play talent at their skill positions, so the offensive line must perform for them to have an opportunity to shine.
“There is always pressure in the game of football,” said Edosa, who will start for the second straight season at center. “We can go any where unless the offensive line blocks. We must come through this season.”
Edosa is one of three returning starters on the offensive front, but new offensive coordinator Terrone Owens says he has full confidence in the group. He says they are young, but have some talented.
“Right now, we are still finding which group works best together,” said Owens, who was an offensive linemen at Tucker High in the late 1990s.
Much of the linemen’s success depends on Edosa, who makes all the line calls. He is considered the quarterback of the offensive line, and the coaches say he has the “smarts to put them in the right position,” which is a big plus.
“Darrel is a very smart kid,” Owens said. “We look for him to not only be a leader on the line, but a leader with the entire team.”
The other two returning starters are Jonathan Lay and Jaylin Barrington, who made all region last season. Lay is making the switch from the guard spot to tackle this season. The three are expected to anchor a line that has to protect quarterback Greg Taylor, who has gotten several interest from college coaches.
Riverdale will feature a receiver corp that averages about 6-foot-3 per player. The marquee player in the lineup is rising senior Rashad Canty, who has already committed to Appalachian State. Last season, he had 30 receptions as the team reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Edosa says he realizes his value to the team.
“I have a big role because we have a lot of young linemen,” he said. “I have to lead this group. I’m like the quarterback out there for the line.”
Sophomore Tariq Walker will also help fill in on the line, but Edosa, Lay and Barrington will be the nucleus.
“With those three on the line, I think this group will come together,”offensive line coach Brandon Thompson said. “I think that really gives us a solid nucleus to work with. I think they realize what is expected of them.”
Owens said the rotation of linemen are getting a lot of reps in practice. By the start of the season, Owens expects this to be a solid group.
“I don’t think our inexperience will pose a problem,” Owens said. “They have been working hard all summer, and getting a lot of reps. We see improvement in them each day, and that is all you can ask for.”