June 24, 2008

Nashville pair takes care of the trenches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - If a team's strength is measured in the trenches then Nashville (Tenn.) Maplewood head coach Lance Thompson should sleep easy at night. Following a season in which he led his team to Tennessee's 4A state title game, Thompson is heading into the 2008 season with a major cornerstone anchoring each side of the line of scrimmage.

On the defensive side of the ball is Romario Cathey, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle that has been dominating his region since his freshman season.

"Since his freshman year, he's been all-metro and all-region," said Coach Thompson. "After his freshman year in the all-region and all-city meetings with the coaches he's been the undisputed defensive lineman of the year. Nobody even throws another name out there when it comes to the defensive line, that's the kind of reputation he's built for himself."

Cathey's reputation has made it to college coaching staffs as well. Currently he holds offers from Texas Tech, North Carolina and Middle Tennessee State but as his grade situation improves, more offers should come his way. In fact, Cathey has already scheduled an October 11 official visit to Texas Tech.

"He's a kid that everybody comes to Maplewood about," said Maplewood offensive coordinator Brandon Woods. "He's the star attraction. The coach from Texas Tech said that the kid from Texas, JaMarcus McFarland, doesn't have anything on Romario athletically, Romario just takes more plays off. Everyone is just waiting to see how he does grade-wise. Once he gets that 2.5 or gets a higher ACT, he'll go off the charts."

Cathey knows that he has room to improve and he is by no means complacent with what he's been able to accomplish through his first three years of his high school career.

"I can be better than where I'm at," Cathey said. "I don't want to think that I'm just the best kid or anything like that. I can just be better than where I'm at. I can be in better shape. I'm trying to get better and faster. I'm working with my hands on the line and getting in shape. I'm working on being a little more physical and getting stronger."

It should be easy for Cathey to get the work he needs to improve because across the line from him at Maplewood is a 2010 prospect that is already drawing some serious interest from some heavy-hitting programs.

"[Stone] was invited down to Alabama's three-day camp," said Coach Woods. "He worked out Sunday and Monday. By Tuesday morning, the offensive line coach, Coach Pendry, had a lot of good things to say about him. He talked to Coach Saban and gave him a verbal offer."

Stone has also landed a verbal offer from his in-state program of Tennessee and at 6-foot-4, 287 pounds looks to have all of things a coach looks for out of an offensive line prospect.

"He's a very smart kid," said Coach Woods. "He already has a 24 on the ACT and he took that as a ninth grader. He currently has a 3.7 core GPA. He's very smart, very coachable. He gives 100 percent effort all the time. He moves well, has great footwork. He has an 81 inch wingspan and he just turned 16 in April."

Stone is not a player that has any early favorites in the recruiting stage and he is being chased by some academic powerhouses like Stanford but he does have leanings towards the SEC.

"I like both of the schools that offered me," Stone said. "They're both from the SEC and at their camps they both look like they have good programs. I'd prefer going to the SEC but you never know."

Stone thrives on the offensive line and loves the opportunity that it presents.

"I just like the whole line experience. There's a man in front of you and it's just who wants it more. I like any plays to my side."

Even Cathey admits the advanced level that Stone has reached. Asked if the senior has taken Stone under his wing, Cathey is resistant.

"You've seen him," Cathey insisted. "He's no baby. I'm trying to get in shape like him."

While Cathey is hoping to get in shape like his younger counterpart, Stone is hoping to inherit more of Cathey's aggression. If both of those goals are accomplished, a consecutive state championship appearance won't quite be enough.

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