The unsung heroes of any good football team are almost always the offensive linemen. Since the o-line doesn’t accumulate statistics and make the big catches, throws, and runs, they’re often ignored in favor of the skill position players. Also, since they work as a unit, it’s often difficult to gauge their individual success. Sadly, the only time the o-line is the focal point of the conversation surrounding a team, is when they’re playing poorly. Lack of recognition generally means they’re playing well. Peninsula’s offensive line has certainly played well this year, paving the way for several big games for running backs Avega Siolo and Major Ali, and get this—they haven’t allowed a sack in six games (quarterback Robert Kvinsland told me that makes him pretty happy. I can’t blame him). The Peninsula line, from left to right, is: left tackle Hayden Smith, left guard Zac Dobosh, center Chance Blalock, right guard Michael Garrison, and right tackle Zack Howard.
The center, first and foremost, is tasked with delivering a clean snap and blocking. Beyond that though, they have to recognize coverages and blitz packages. Their ability to do so dictates the success of the offense. Blalock said communication has been the biggest part of their success this year.
“Working as a team, as a center and playing with the guards, I think communication is our biggest goal and what I focus on mainly, and just making sure we have the right assignments every play,” he said.
Left tackle Hayden Smith, accountable for the quarterback’s blind side, said the o-line worked extensively in the off season, lifting weights and attending various camps. He said blocking for Siolo and Ali makes their jobs easier.
“It’s just great,” Smith said. “They’re really up, positive people. They come into that huddle and they get us all excited, keep us pumped up and going.”
Blalock agreed with Smith regarding the running backs they block for.
“They’re great guys. Siolo is always positive, me and him are always communicating back and forth on what we can improve on with each other, and reading blocks. I have great guys to block for.”
Blalock said the o-line is immensely proud of the way they’ve protected Kvinsland this season.
“That’s something we’re really proud of. That’s usually our goal, and it’s a good goal. It’s a huge attribute to the team. Sacks are drive killers and we can’t have drive killers.”
On most teams, the o-line is generally a tight knit group. They don’t have the luxury of being an island, like a running back or receiver might. They rely heavily on each other to work effectively, and form a bond in the process.
“All of us at lunch, we all go into the lineman’s room, and we all eat lunch together and we watch film,” Smith said.
“We have our own inside jokes and always hang out,” Blalock said. “We get along and our chemistry is really good.”
Blalock said the lack of recognition doesn’t bother him.
“I really play for the team and I’m a team player,” Blalock said. “I think the focus on Avega and Major just getting the recognition they’re getting, reflects back on us and how good we’re blocking. Those guys are always really helpful, by coming back and supporting us and saying, ‘Hey, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you guys.’ They’re very supportive team mates.”
Check out next week’s column for a look at the Gig Harbor offensive line.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.