Linemen are the pistons that make the machine run
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 4:32 p.m.
They wear numbers like 57, 68 and 75. They are usually, but not always, big, and we don’t have a clue what they look like underneath their helmets. They seldom get their names in the newspaper, and when they do, there is a good chance the names will be mispelled or they will be misidentified. The only time they are mentioned by the announcer is when they get hurt and are down on the turf during a game. While all eyes are on the quarterback as he drops back to pass, on the receiver as he soars to make a catch or on the back as he sprints down field, they battle unnoticed and unappreciated in the muck in the middle of the field. The play with aches, pains and problems.
They are the offensive linement, the blue collar heroes of football. They get no glory, but they are the pistons that make the grid machine run. Without them functioning smoothly and in unison, the entire machine sputters and eventually stops.
Casa Grande High School has a reputation for turning out outstanding quarterbacks and running backs, yet the true success of the Gauchos over the years has been built on the sacrifice of their offensive lines. It is no different this season. Quarterback JaJuan Lawson and running back John Porchivina will grab the headlines, and they are certainly gifted athletes, but their heroics are only possible when the offensive line opens the holes and keeps defenders out of Lawson’s face. Of the many impressive facets of Casa’s opening-game win over Eureka last week was the consistent play of its offensive line, even though it was missing, and will continue to miss, one of its key components in Brendan Jackson, who is out indefinitely with an injury. So important is the offensive line that, when injuries thinned the Casa offensive front last season, the Gaucho coaching staff moved one of the team’s best all-around players, Elijah Qualls, from fullback to center.
Petaluma High School lost all four of its pre-Sonoma County League games last season, but won four of six league games. Ask coach Rick Krist, and he will tell you the biggest reason for the turn around was the improved play in the Trojan line.
It is a major myth that linemen are big and dumb.
Size does matter. When you’re a normal-sized 210 pounder staring at the gut of some 320-pound mountain, it can be intimidating, but I’ve seen some very effective linemen who had to gulp a Big Mac to reach 160 pounds. As far as intelligence goes, many of the top scholars and most articulate players on the team are the linemen.
A couple of years ago, Petaluma had an offensive line that, as a unit, carried a nearly 4.0 grade point average.
Here’s a tip of the helmet to you Mr. Offensive Lineman, whoever you are.
(Contact John Jackson at email@example.com)
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