There's no substitute for experience, and that's exactly what the Barnwell High offensive line has this season. The Warhorses return several linemen who have been getting reps for years.
The biggest of them is Briggs Kearse. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior tackle has played since his freshman season and his knowledge of the position and physicality is what makes him one of the area's top players to watch.
Kearse said he benefits from head coach Dwayne Garrick being the the offensive line coach, as well.
“I'm smart enough to know that our team and our season is going to go based on how well our offensive line plays,” Garrick said. “There's a lot of pressure there on myself and the guys to do things the right way.”
Kearse has soaked up the knowledge like a sponge, playing in the system since his freshman season.
“Coach is just tremendous when it comes to that stuff. He knows everything when it comes to the O-line,” Kearse said. “He's helped me a lot, and I've learned a lot the past two years going on three.”
The big test for Kearse and many of the other linemen this season will be adapting to the change in offense from the wishbone to a single-back offense with more passing. Pass protection has been one of the areas in which Kearse feels he's stepped his game up this offseason, but he's still looking to improve and show that he can be as strong of a pass blocker as he was a run blocker on film.
“(Coach Garrick) helped me a lot with my kicking and footwork,” Kearse said. “That's really been a big change. There's a lot more dropping back or kicking than going forward every play.”
His size and skill has been on display on the field at Barnwell for a few years, and this summer he got to put it on display at camps on college campuses across the southeast.
Now his attention turns back to getting it done on the field every Friday night for Barnwell as it chases a spot in the state championship game that has eluded the Warhorses each of the past two seasons.
“We've just got to get over that hump,” Kearse said.