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App Tackles Face Tough DE Tandem
While it’s likely that most people Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium will be watching Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, or maybe one of the Mountaineers’ several other weapons on offense, two individuals face what could be their biggest challenge of the season.
When the Mountaineers host Richmond in the second round of the playoffs, those two players, offensive tackles Jonathan Bieschke and Brad Coley, will have their hands full with Richmond’s talented duo of defensive ends.
Richmond’s Lawrence Sidbury, Jr., who is a senior on the field, is a possible NFL draft choice. One Internet site has him being drafted as high as the sixth round.
Sidbury (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) is a first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection.
Richmond’s other defensive end, Sherman Logan, is a second-team All-CAA selection and is also a senior.
The two have more than their positions and the fact that that they’re both seniors in common. Neither played in Richmond’s 55-35 loss to the Mountaineers in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs last year becuause of injury.
It was the same game that saw Edwards gain 313 yards, run for four touchdowns and throw for four others.
“They are two dominating players that we didn’t have to face last year,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said.
Bieschke and Coley get to face the duo on Saturday. However, it’s not like the two Mountaineer bookends are completely void of anything on their resumes.
Bieschke is a two-year starter and was named first-team All-Southern Conference this season. He is not exactly small, standing 6-5 and weighing in at 275 pounds.
Coley (6-4, 285) stepped into the starting lineup at left tackle last year because of an injury to Mario Acitelli and never gave the job back. Coley, also a senior, was named second-team All-SoCon last year and was elevated to the first team this year.
Both have also blocked good defensive ends this year, especially at LSU when they faced the Tigers’ duo of Tyson Jackson (6-5, 290), a possible first-round NFL pick, and Kirston Pittman (6-4, 257).
Bieschke, the Mountaineers’ right tackle, will face Sidbury Jr. He said Sidbury Jr. is not as big as LSU’s Jackson, but he still expects to have his hands full.
“(Jackson,) he was a good player,” Bieschke said. “He’s probably not as big, but still athletic and strong.”
They expect to stay busy keeping up with Logan and Sidbury Jr.
“They’re good athletes on film,” Coley said. “You can watch them all day long, but you’ve got to get out there and line up against them to really know how someone plays.”
Both have studied their share of film of Richmond’s defense. Bieschke said the best things he can do to get ready is to make sure he knows Sidbury Jr’s tendencies and just practice hard.
“That’s all you can do,” Bieschke said. “Watch a lot of film and see what he does, see if he leans one way or if he slants one side.”
Appalachian State’s offensive line, as a whole, has been fortunate in the fact that all five starters, guards Daniel Kilgore, Acitelli and center Brett Irvin, have started all 13 games this year.
Last year, the Mountaineers’ offensive line was a patchwork group that got healthy when the playoffs began and jelled as the postseason went along.
“It’s really helpful,” Bieschke said. “I got hurt last year, I think I missed three games and a bye week. It’s tough to come back from an injury, but we’ve been really fortunate this year to not have any injuries.”
Bieschke said it not only keeps the players on the field, it keeps them working together.
“We’re closer as a group because we’ve played with each other all year,” he said. “We can do things without telling each other. We know what the other person’s doing at any given time, which really helps.”
Coley said there are other issues the players have to deal with during a season. Making the playoffs, he said, gives the team a new outlook on football.
“Personally, it comes to the end of the season things start to wear on you,” Coley said. “You get tired and school starts really crashing down and it gets a little hard to go day after day. But once the playoffs get there, it’s like a whole other season. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Everything you’ve got goes to winning football games and winning a national championship.”
Both are hopeful to improve on last year’s running output, which was limited to 124 yards.
However, Edwards threw for 433 yards and four touchdowns in the Mountaineers’ 37-21 victory over South Carolina State.
App tackles face tough DE tandem
By Steve Behr, The Watauga Democrat