Pike County anchors offensive line with Vaznian, Nickson, Cochran

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, August 8, 2013

Linemen Isaac Nickson (left) and Terrance Cochran (right) battle for positioning during a drill. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Linemen Isaac Nickson (left) and Terrance Cochran (right) battle for positioning during a drill. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

A thousand coaches have said it, but it still holds true nearly every game.

“It all starts up front.”

Pike County head coach Fred Holland is a firm believer in that games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage, and he wants to make sure his group is ready for battle.

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The Bulldogs return the core of their offensive line unit from a season ago, with tackle Terrance Cochran and center Tony Vaznian. Pike County also adds in the uber-athletic Isaac Nickson at guard to beef up the offensive front.

Cochran, a 20112 Messenger All-Area selection, and Vaznian played last season, but Nickson sat out the majority of the fall with an ankle injury.

The group not only brings talent experience to the field, but also quite a bit of size. Each of the players tips the scales at no less than 235 pounds, or stands under six feet tall.

“Tony, Terrance and Isaac will be some of our leaders in that group,” Holland said. “They will help us carry the younger guys along, and will also play some of defense as well. Those guys will be big for us.”

Holland knows that the work of an offensive lineman can be tough and unrewarding, being that he played the position during his days in silver and purple in the late 1980s.

“The battles right here at the line of scrimmage dictate a lot, both offensively and defensively,” Holland said. “We have guys that are working pretty hard, and they know not a lot of glory comes from it. Quite a few of the guys we have really, honestly, enjoy it. Coach (Joey) Dennison and I like working down here, because we know what the rewards can be.”

Thursday marked the first practice in full pads for Alabama High School Athletic Association teams. Temps in Brundidge topped out at 91 on Thursday, but humidity and heat index lifted the “real feel” well over 105 degrees.

Holland said that the first few days in pads are always tough for both players and coaches alike, and that mistakes are made due to the high temps.

“The first few days in pads tells you a lot about yourself and tells you a lot about you players,” Holland said. “You find out who really wants it, and who don’t. I feel like we have had a pretty good first day, and will continue to get better as the days come.”

Pike County meets longtime nemesis and rival Charles Henderson in the Pike County Classic Friday Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. At Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy.

The Bulldogs fell to the Trojans last season 44-2 in Brundidge.

Pike County opens the regular season Aug. 30 against cross-county rival Goshen.

Kickoff for that game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Brundidge.