DUNLAP — Kick the ball to Concord and you risk watching the ball fly by the other direction.
Punch it out of bounds and you’re simply handing the ball to the Minutemen in quality field position.
It’s a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t which will have opponents on edge all season.
Concord coach Tim Dawson says this is the best collection of return-game talent he’s ever had. Led by Jarrell Pointdexter’s dazzling speed, the Minutemen have a scoring weapon that few in the NLC possess.
“They have a chance to take it every time and it alters the ways team kick,” Dawson said as his 3-0 club heads to Wawasee on Friday.
Pointdexter, a 5-foot-9, 154-pound junior, is a burner, but he’s developing into a smart burner, a return ace who’s honing a keen knack for reading blocks and punctuating huge runs.
In the season opener against South Bend Washington, Pointdexter bolted 45 yards to a touchdown with a punt return. Against Memorial in Week 2, he lifted Concord right away with a 90-yard return on the opening kickoff. Two other kicks this season have been called back because of penalties.
And as an offensive threat at wideout, Pointdexter took a bubble screen 90 yards for a TD against NorthWood a week ago and added another 25-yarder from quarterback Trevor Wilmore.
“He understands our planning and timing to set up his blocks,” said CHS assistant Dennis Teegarden, who’s in charge of special teams. “He understands not to slow down on kicks, especially on kickoffs. We want to try to get him to full speed and make all of his moves at full speed.”
“The kids (up front) have to sell what we want,” Dawson said. “They know we’ve got kids who can take it, but at the same time we’ve noticed five or six good blocks that are being made that are going to spring that. Teams don’t want to kick to No.14 (Pointdexter), but I’m not sure they want to kick to No. 13 (Chris Martin), either.”
Pointdexter pairs with Martin, a senior who’s returned kicks for two seasons, in a scheme which has proven to be very successful.
Teegarden, while coaching at Elkhart Memorial, saw Fred Malone return nine kicks for TDs during his time with the Chargers, but in four seasons with the Minutemen, he’s says Pointdexter is “by far the best” returner he’s seen and that Martin is “pretty good, too.”
“We said returns are king,” Teegarden said. “We’ve been telling them we’ve got the two best returners in the whole state and if you get them started, they’ll finish.”
Watching blocks by teammates create a crease is something special, according to Pointdexter.
“If I see the first couple of blocks, I know I’m going to the house. I know my players are going to be there,” Pointdexter said. “When I see that first hit, it’s ‘Yea, time to go.’
“We’ve practiced it so many times, it’s a natural habit. If my blocks are there, I’m gonna be the fastest one down the sideline and I’m not looking back.”
“We’ve tried a lot of different guys over the last four years and all of them are pretty good athletes, but (Pointdexter has) been the best one to understand the timing,” Teegarden said. “Jarrell has burst you don’t see out of a lot of guys.”