Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giles' why-fling-when-you-can-zing style

End fits Giles' why-fling-when-you-can-zing style
The Spartans will host George Wythe for the Group A Division 2 Region C title on Friday.
By Ray Cox

PEARISBURG -- Back in the dark days before Xbox and YouTube, a particularly noteworthy individual or event was referred to as "the living end."

Nobody was sure exactly what that meant, although it seems clear on the face of it that the living end was certainly better than a dead end.

Which in a roundabout way brings us to the topic of Giles High School football position players, particularly one of the ends. When it comes to senior Evan Lidgard, it can be said with assurance that the Spartans have a live one who makes a living keeping things hot for opposing quarterbacks and running backs.

In another day and time, you might also have been able to say that athletes of Lidgard's above-average ability who play end on the offensive side can make things lively in opposing secondaries. You can't really say that about today's Spartans, though.

"We don't throw to Evan very much," Giles coach Steve Ragsdale pointed out.

Nothing against Lidgard, you understand. Fact is, Giles doesn't throw to anybody much. The philosophy around here is why fling it at your foes when you can zing them with a [Single-Wing] powerful running game?

Giles has done plenty of effective running while powering its way to a nine-game winning streak and Friday's 1:30 p.m. Group A Division 2 Region C final against guest George Wythe.

Lidgard's role in all that has been substantial on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Offensively, he's a crunching blocker, but that goes without saying. Around these parts, if you can't block up a storm, then you don't play. Lidgard has another offensive role in tandem with fellow senior Garrison Ellis and that is to alternate while carrying plays from the bench to the huddle.

Far as we know, neither one of them has blown the latter assignment yet.

Defensively, Lidgard has done a job at end. A year ago, he was alternating at linebacker. Faced with the prospect of playing more and more teams who have gone with the pass-oriented spread offense craze, the Giles coaches opted to move Lidgard to end to take advantage of his athleticism and instincts. The only knock on him in his new position is that he's so aggressive that occasionally he'll be out of position.

"I know why that is," Ragsdale said. "He wants to make plays."

Those tendencies have led him to make a lot more plays than he's missed. None was bigger than a sack he made in last week's 24-6 dismantling of Floyd County in the playoff opener. Down 9-0 at the time, Floyd County came out of intermission firing and took their first possession of the second half deep into Spartans territory.

Facing second and 5 at the Giles 12, Buffaloes quarterback Luke Harris looked to pass but never managed to put the football aloft. Lidgard, bearing in from the flank, ran him down and dumped him for a loss of 13 yards.

"That pretty much stopped the drive right there and that was big for us," Ragsdale said.

Harris threw two more completions that series, but the Buffaloes couldn't make up for the lost yardage and surrendered the football on downs.

Despite just five catches this year, Lidgard has been an important offensive player in other respects than being a play shuttle guy. Let him describe his duties: "The job of the left end is to make sure we bust the long ones and get the halfback blocked," he said.

Giles has been busting a lot of long ones, so he and his fellow ends have clearly been effective in running down field interference.

Lidgard is a three-sport athlete. In addition to playing midfield and goal keeper on the resurgent Spartans soccer team, he is also one of Giles' top basketball players.

The problem with basketball has been that every year, he's a late arrival for preseason workouts because of the routinely extended football campaign. As a late season call up from the junior varsity as a sophomore and again last year as a full-time varsity starter, Lidgard has been involved in 14 games each year as Giles was advancing to the state football championship. Giles won it all two years ago and was runner-up last season.

Lidgard allowed that it's tough going in hoops for a while as he struggles to catch up with the rest of the players while trying to work his way into basketball shape. Don't get the idea he's complaining about the delay, though.

"I'd rather be playing football anyway," he said.

The postseason experience the pastcouple of years has helped him this season

"Nerves don't get into it now," he said. "You're ready to go when you see all the crowd and everything that goes along with the playoffs."

Prior experience ought to help this week against 10-1 George Wythe, which crushed Grayson County 50-8 last week in the playoff opener. Playing in the fourth game of the season, Giles prevailed 28-7 on the Maroons' field.

"What we learned then is that they have great speed and we have to keep them contained," Lidgard said.

Sounds like a good job for a (living) defensive end.

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