Tides’ offensive line guides team to big year

November 20, 2013 

Last week, I took a closer look at what makes the Peninsula Seahawks tick — their offensive line. This week, I stopped by Gig Harbor High School to talk to a couple guys from the Tides’ o-line. From left to right, they are: tackles Owen Taylor/Jake Choate, guard Sam Campidilli, center Kyle Murphy, guard Brandon Schmunk and tackle Nate Ellis.

Before Gig Harbor’s season came to an end Saturday at Wenatchee, the Tides had a dominant year. They went 8-2 in the regular season, reached the first round of the Class 4A state tournament, and had a nearly unstoppable running game. It was a remarkable turnaround from last year’s 3-7 mark.

The pinnacle of their success came on the road against the Olympia Bears at Ingersol Stadium, where tailback Sterling Brown put up 310 yards rushing.

“Our o-line greatly improved since last year,” guard Nate Ellis said. “We added depth, as well. Give kudos to Sterling Brown. He’s the MVP for a reason. I also want to give credit to the o-line. He’s just as good as he is because of the o-line. We’ve done a great job at run blocking and pass blocking, and giving opportunities for our offense to succeed.”

Ellis immediately pointed to the Olympia game as the offensive line’s defining moment.

“When Sterling ran for 310 yards, our o-line really handled the front line of Olympia,” he said.

Their job was made easier by Brown — a tough, bruising back who attacks the hole with tenacity. He drew an impressive comparison from Ellis.

“When I think of Sterling Brown and the way he runs, I automatically think of Marshawn Lynch,” Ellis said. “The way he runs, the way they both run is almost identical — the wide footing, the cuts in the holes. He has a motor that just will not stop. He doesn’t stop after contact. He’s probably the greatest runner I’ve ever played for.”

While the offensive linemen always strive for perfection, they don’t always need to be perfect for Brown to have success.

“It’s easy to block for him,” lineman Brandon Schmunk said. “We just make the hole, and he just goes. He’s not one of those guys who needs a perfect hole, he just picks it and goes.”

The offensive line doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves, but Schmunk said that doesn’t concern him.

“We recognize each other, and I think that’s the strongest part of it,” he said. “And we win, so that’s what I’m happy about.”

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