Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Roxana offense lines up against Litchfield during Week 6 at Charlie Raich Field. The Shells are averaging 38.8 points per game and currently sitting at 4-2 on the season.
Pat Keith hasn’t seen anything like it in his six-year tenure as head coach.
The Roxana Shells have a skilled balance on offense, which is allowing them to score points at 38.8 per game. That’s a tad higher than the 23.2 per clip they scored last season, which was inflated by 85 points over the final two weeks.
The Shells were 3-6 in 2013. In comparison, they are 4-2 through six weeks right now and on the verge of clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 2003.
“I think the guys are buying into it,” Keith said. “It’s not like we’re doing anything different than we did before, but we’re doing it better. We’ve got better blocking and the kids are buying into it and having success.”
That blocking from the offensive line might be the unsung hero. It’s allowed senior running back Logan Reardon to reap the benefits and rush for 1,021 yards and 15 touchdowns, while junior Blake Vandiver has gone for 533 yards and seven scores on the ground.
The line consists of a veteran bunch, including seniors Brennan Harris, Luke Curtis and Josh Rudd and juniors Ethan Kurth, Billy Mathis and Trace Gentry.
“They’re a bunch of good guys and they work hard together and they’re enjoying the success,” Keith said of the O-line. “And success helps a little bit; they’re starting to believe in themselves a little bit.”
Reardon believes it’s camaraderie that makes the Roxana offense so dynamic as a whole.
“We’ve got a lot of chemistry,” he said. “Seniors, juniors; we’re all close. We’ve all played together in basketball, baseball, football, every sport and we’re all just real close.”
And while the O-line controls the trenches for Reardon and Vandiver to cause havoc along with Seth Chester and Jared Foiles when they spell them, the passing game hasn’t been too shabby either.
Junior quarterback Chance Foss is 49 of 86 through the air for 715 yards, nine TDs and five interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 104.7 through six contests.
Alec Revelle (8 catches, 212 yards, 4 TDs), Gentry (10 catches, 175 yards, 3 TDs), Foiles (12 catches, 129 yards) and Vandiver (10 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs) have been the beneficiaries of Foss’ arm.
“Chance is our leader and he’s poised under pressure,” Keith said. “He does a good job for us. We don’t go without him.”
Foss credited his beefy buddies in front of him for the opportunity to complete passes, too. The O-line sets the stage for that skilled, balanced attack to flourish.
“We’ve all played together for awhile and we know what we can do,” Foss said. “We’ve got a good line that’s blocking for us and protecting us up front and our backs hit the holes and we’re just clicking. We can hand it off or air it out; we’re unpredictable and have a lot of players that can run with the ball and move it up the field.”
Three games remain on the docket and one more win should secure a coveted playoff spot for the Shells. They are at Gillespie (0-6) at 7 p.m. Friday, then welcome Staunton (2-4) and Southwestern (3-3) the final two weeks of the season. A 7-2 record isn’t out of the realm of possibility, which could mean a postseason home game.
The Roxana motto right now is “one game at a time.” That’s the way Foss and his teammates are approaching Gillespie.
“It feels good to have some success around here,” Foss said. “We’re 4-2 and one step closer to where we want to be. Now we go on the road and we’ll work hard in practice and hopefully get it done in Week 7.”