Halftime adjustments are an integral part of football, and for Zachary High School that came five weeks ago in the form of a personnel adjustment.
The Broncos trailed Denham Springs 14-6 in a pivotal road District 4-5A game when first-year coach David Brewerton shifted junior guard Kelton Hollins to center for the second half.
Brewerton and offensive line coach Jason Davis noticed some difficulty in controlling the middle of Denham Springs’ defense, necessitating the move of the bigger and more experienced Hollins, a 6-foot-3, 285-pounder in his third year as a starter.
“I thought we were pretty average up front up until that point of that move,” Brewerton said. “(Davis) suggested we make the move for the second half, and it was a big difference. We became more solid from the inside out, and that’s what has changed things for us. Our offense has been on fire since that move.”
Not only did Zachary rally in the final 44 seconds to beat Denham Springs 28-24 on Oct. 31, but two weeks ago the Broncos won a 35-10 rematch with the Yellow Jackets on the road to reaching the school’s first Class 5A nonselect state semifinal berth.
No. 3 Zachary (12-1) travels Friday to face No. 15 Acadiana (9-4), the reigning state champion, at Bill Dotson Stadium in Scott.
“All you can do is focus and worry about the things we do, which is Bronco football which is physical and fast,” Hollins said. “When that happens we should come out on top because our coaches do a great job of preparing us for any situation we see.”
Since cracking the starting lineup as a freshman, Hollins’ high school résumé has included right tackle his first season and both guard positions and center during the Broncos’ run to the state quarterfinals last year.
“He is the leader up front, whether he was playing guard or center,” Brewerton said. “We had full confidence in him to do that, but more importantly the guys around him kind of gravitate toward him. When it was all said and done, we stuck with it because it worked very well for us.”
When Davis approached Hollins at halftime of the first Denham Springs game about the impending switch of positions Hollins, like most good linemen, didn’t flinch and deftly handled the additional responsibilities.
“I needed to play center and coach Davis talked to the other linemen and I did what I had to do,” Hollins said. “We weren’t prepared for their (defensive) tackle and I was just trying to get the job done and win games for this team.”
Humility, as much as his physicality, is a big part of Hollins’ success. He didn’t attribute the turnaround against Denham Springs, or the productivity over the past 19 quarters where Zachary’s averaged 46 points, solely to his move to center.
Hollis said it’s been more of a collective effort, displaying his leadership skills and imploring his fellow linemen to raise their level of play to help the Broncos reach new heights.
“My move was part of it, but I also talked with (the) line and said we had to pick it up if we wanted to advance further in the season,” Hollins said. “This is what we all wanted, and we came out and played more physical. That’s shown over the course of the playoffs.”