McALESTER — A 21-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Wood to Caden Pratt put the McAlester Buffaloes up 7-0 at Noble on Friday. But as the offense trotted to the sideline after the play, neither Wood nor Pratt received the loudest praise from McAlester’s coaches.
That honor went to receiver Blakely Williams. Though Wood threw a perfect screen to Pratt and Pratt dodged several tackles as he always does, Williams made it all possible with a key block downfield.
“When we’re in film, the first thing we talk about is how they block,” Buffs wide receivers coach Austin Maddux said Tuesday.
“I’ve had far more compliments from people telling me that our receivers block well than I have anything else that I’ve done since I got here.”
McAlester’s offense relies heavily on screens, bubbles and jet-sweeps — two passing plays and a run, respectively, that rely on the receiver or running back getting to the sideline. If defensive backs and linebackers penetrate into McAlester’s backfield, those kinds of plays can easily go for no gain or even turn into negative yardage.
To keep defenders off the line of scrimmage, McAlester’s receivers have to know how to block, and how to block over and over again without drawing holding penalties. Maddux said he and fellow receivers coach James Barr run blocking drills at practice every Monday, and last year they ran similar drills every day.
“If we run 80 plays, I’m probably throwing 60 blocks,” Harkins said. “I used to have a real habit of when I wasn’t getting the ball, just come off all slow and not really care. But as you see on film, it just doesn’t look good. It doesn’t help the team any, either.”
Almost all of McAlester’s starting receivers this year are seniors, with big contributions in both receiving and blocking coming from Pratt, Harkins, Williams and Mason Bumphus. Senior Allen Woodmore and junior Keaton Slater have also recorded receptions this year and also had to block for other receivers.