Fans flock to football games in hopes of seeing their favorite running back bust through the hole for a big gain or their team’s quarterback hit a receiver in stride for a big completion.
But few pay money to watch the big guys on the offensive line who take a pounding, get little glory and avoid the one mistake that could lead to an injury.
And the “Big Uglies” wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a pride thing knowing that you’re doing your job regardless of what people think,” Shoemaker right tackle Zachery Moore said. “The quarterbacks and receivers give you a lot of motivation in what you do.”
For area teams, offensive totals may have skyrocketed in the last few years, but the anonymous role of the linemen who get their uniforms dirty blocking opponents to make sure the offense runs on all cylinders hasn’t changed.
The cliché says the only people who recognize an offensive lineman are his quarterback and his mother, but Shoemaker coach Channon Hall said the job done by the Grey Wolves unit of Matthew Goulart, Asunte Strong, Moore, Letrae Gant, Terrell Perry, Nathaniel Nani and Derrick Poppe has
been crucial this season.
Offensive linemen sacrifice their bodies and may not have highlight reel plays during a game, but for Poppe the little things, like paint marks on his helmet, gained for a big win are reward enough after a Friday night.
“You see some light blue from Temple, that’s from Midway,” Poppe said, pointing to his helmet. “It just shows how much work we put in during a game.”
The Grey Wolves line helped Shoemaker stay in the hunt for a playoff spot with a balanced offense that rushed for 1,652 yards and passed for 1,694.
“They give us an opportunity to take what the defense gives us and not be one-sided,” Hall said.
Shoemaker quarterback Ziere Banner is third in District 8-5A with 871 yards rushing and has thrown for 16 touchdowns.
Cove’s new Dawgs
Copperas Cove entered the season with their big guys up front as a question mark, but after four district games, the line helped the Dawgs stay in playoff contention.
Despite having five new starters on the line, the Bulldawgs are among the district leaders in team offense.
“For our offense to be one of the leaders in the state and our district shows the adaptability that the coaches have with the talent, because every year, we’re a little different,” Cove coach Jack Welch said.
Cove is second in the district, averaging 521 yards per game; only nine yards fewer than Waco Midway.
Welch said the Dawgs had to throw more than they did in the past. As a result, the offensive line had to come up big to protect junior quarterback Manny Harris.
Cove’s protection has allowed Harris to throw for a district leading 2,462 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Size doesn’t matter in Lampasas
Lampasas does not have the traditional huge linemen up front who use brute strength to open wide holes, but the Badgers are racking up points and yards on the ground.
Despite injuries to running backs Steven Jazdyk and Gary Spencer, the Badgers’ offensive line has moved opponents back and helped the Badgers rush for 2,673 yards this season.
Jazdyk and Spencer both missed games this season, but the run game didn’t skip a beat.
Lampasas coach Brian Emerson said most of the team’s linemen weigh around 200 pounds, so chemistry and communication has been key.
“Kids study and learn about Paul Revere now, and he gets all this credit, but the one that did all the work was his horse,” Emerson said. “Our linemen are kind of like that. They are not going to get the credit and the acclaim that our backs do, but they are the ones doing a lot of the work.”
Line makes Salado offense soar
The Salado Eagles have been passing more this season, but that doesn’t diminish the contribution made by the five guys up front.
Salado is by far the district leader with 2,222 passing yards this season and coach Brent Graham said having three seniors up front has been a big key to the team’s success.
“They’re the heart and soul of what we do. Any success that we’ve had on the field offensively has been a tribute to what they do in the trenches,” Graham said.
Jordan Mason and Clay Whittington contributed to this report.