Rams to Make a ‘Run for It’ - TribPapers

Rams to Make a ‘Run for It’

RB-LB Reno Jeter (2), QB Lex Dinwiddie (8) and Towayne Whitehead (25), all juniors, are with the five Ram football seniors: RB/LB Josh Sweetenburg (30), kicker Asher Sloan (3) and OL Khalil Chung (52). Back row: RB/LB Devon Hollis and OL Jesus Rodriguez. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Skyland – T.C. Roberson is eager to rev up its triple option offense behind an experienced quarterback, along with an army of jacked-up juniors and superb sophomores.

This is merely TCR’s second year in the Flexbone triple option offense. “We’re light years ahead” in running it, seventh-season Ram head coach Jason “J.D.” Dinwiddie said. The Rams now look to run 70 percent of the time, compared to 20 percent of the spread. Dinwiddie said, “It’s hard to prepare for” since few teams run the triple option anymore.

Coach Jason Dinwiddie. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Coach Jason Dinwiddie. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

There were growing pains in adjusting to the new scheme. TCR was 2-8 last fall and sixth out of seven in the MAC. “We were young and took it on the chin,” Coach Dinwiddie said. The players “know how it feels to be down,” and are determined not to feel that again. He said his staff “holds players accountable” and sets high standards. He cites “wonderful team chemistry.”

The squad is the league’s youngest. There are merely five seniors and two returning starters on each side of the ball. TCR varsity has 18 juniors, one freshman, and 18 sophomores—several of whom played varsity in ‘22 or on the 8-2 JV squad. On paper, 2023 seems like the Rams’ year. But they are eager to make great strides now.

The quarterback is Lex Dinwiddie (5-11, 180 jr.). Lex quarterbacked the Rams for seven games—most of them last fall. He has since grown nearly a half-foot and added 35 pounds. He can run faster (4.69) and throw much stronger. He is demonstrating that he can bounce off of hits better. Lex said he can better “play with confidence.” Also, rather than dwell on any misfortune or mishap, he said, “I focus on the next play.” He said his father, as coach, “doesn’t have to ‘fuss’ at me so much.” Coach Dinwiddie said Lex is making sharper, quicker split-second decisions on who gets the ball.

The Flexbone deploys a fullback and two slotbacks at once. Reno Jeter (5-10, 205 jr.) is Ram baseball’s cleanup hitter and was the lead starting pitcher in ‘21. Devon Hollis (6-1, 185 sr.) also runs hard as a fullback.

Slot backs have “speed and athleticism,” Coach Dinwiddie said. Feisty Zeb Swangim (5-7, 150 so.) and Tyrin Credle (5-10, 165 jr.) are backed by Shemar Darity (5-7, 155 so.) who runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. Swangim, the backup QB, started as a freshman pitcher and outfielder for the regional runner-up Rams. He and Jeter look to inject a winning attitude into football, too.

The wide receiver role is split by Will Brasier (5-10, 165 jr.), Cohen Bohanon (5-10, 160 so.), Zach Stanley (6-2, 1870 so.) or Joemar Darity (5-7, 145 so.). The receiver needs to “block in space” downfield, Coach Dinwiddie said.

Guards Jesus Rodriguez (5-11, 260 sr.) and Cardia Boyd (5-9, 220 sr.), tackles Khalil Chung (5-11, 210 sr.) and Adler Tripplett (6-3, 220 jr.), and center Grayson Banks (5-9, 220 jr.) are the starting offensive linemen.”They’re fast off the ball,” Coach Dinwiddie said.
The placekicker is strong-legged Asher Sloan (6-2, 180 sr.).

The defense shone as Roberson (1-1) shut out Ashbrook 12-0 on the road last Friday. The 3-4 base is a switch for TCR. It is designed to counter spread offenses that run fast outside or throw screens, such as Reynolds, Erwin, and Asheville. The Ram linebackers are Bohannon and Hollis inside and Jeter and Brasier outside. Nose guard Itachi Duvernay (5-10, 275 jr.) and DEs Tripplett and Chung are up front. The swift secondary has CBs Credle and Joemar Darity and safeties Sherard Gilliland (5-10, 165 so.) and Shemar Darity.

Duvernay said the Rams are taking the option to the next “production level.” Coach Dinwiddie said, “We’re ambitious and working hard to be more physical and to ‘dish it out.’” Look for the developing Rams to keep improving throughout this season.