In football’s modern age of spread offenses and “throwing the ball around the yard,” Cane Bay High School is taking a much different approach when it comes to scoring touchdowns.
The Cobras, 5-0 and ranked sixth among the state’s Class AAAA teams, opt for the option style offense known as the flex-bone attack. And, just like the spread passing offenses, having a dependable quarterback is the key to success in the flex-bone.
Cane Bay has the perfect quarterback for its offense in junior Ronald (R.J.) Roderick. However, at 6-1, 207-pounds, Roderick looks more like a safety or linebacker than he does an option quarterback. His physicality is what makes him one of the toughest quarterbacks to tackle in the Lowcountry.
“I love this offense,” Roderick said. “It’s an offense where we all (wing backs and fullback) get the carries and get the chance to contribute. I feel like I can throw the football but I really don’t have to throw it much. Our running game is so successful, that’s what we have to do to win games. It’s all about winning games, not stats.”
As a freshman, Roderick considered himself a running back. Cane Bay was making the switch to the flex-bone under offensive coordinator Shane Todd, who had learned the offense as an assistant at Berkeley under Jerry Brown. Todd was able to convince Roderick to work in the offense at quarterback and the results speak for themselves.
“I told R.J. that in this offense, the quarterback was a running back and he would have the ball in his hands on every single play,” Todd said. “That convinced him to give it a try.”
As a sophomore, Roderick rushed for 993 yards and 12 touchdowns while passing for 701 yards and seven scores. This season, Roderick has gained 597 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 300 yards through the air.
Timberland head coach Art Craig, who runs a similar version of offense in his highly successful program, says Roderick is taylor made for the flex-bone.
“I love watching him except when we play him because he’s really good in that offense,” Craig said. “He’s such a great athlete and he’s strong and fast. But he audibles out of plays. He really knows that offense and he can execute it as well as anyone I have seen. Schools like The Citadel and Georgia Tech, I don’t know who they have there but they would be foolish not to recruit that kid.”
Speaking of college, Roderick would welcome the opportunity to play quarterback at the next level, but he has kept an open mind to switching positions in order to achieve his goal of playing college football.
“I would certainly feel comfortable running this offense in college if I had the opportunity,” said Roderick, who runs a 4.53 40-yard dash and is a triple jumper in track. “But I am willing to play anywhere as an athlete. I feel like I could be a running back, a receiver, a safety or linebacker. I think of myself as a football player first, then a quarterback.”
Cane Bay head coach Russell Zehr admits he would love to see Roderick in his secondary, saying “he would be a great safety or linebacker, but the more points we score on offense, the less work we have to do on defense. And that guy can score points so he’s in the right spot for us.”
Zehr feels Roderick has not only grown as an athlete but also as a leader in the program. He says Roderick’s commitment to being the best quarterback he can be is what sets him apart.
“He studies and works, watches film all of the time and asks questions,” Zehr said. “He has really grown into a quarterback and he wants to know everything he can about this offense. He does all of the little things and he’s a leader because the other players see how hard he works at it. He knows this offense and we trust him. He has earned our trust through his preparation and hard work.”