In any great offense, there are a group of guys who stand, or really crouch, right on the line.
They don’t hold the most glamorous positions and their accomplishments are often placed in the shadows, but they do have some really cool nicknames.
The six are often known as “hog mollies,” “big uglies” and “bruisers.” These guys are known as the offensive line and their responsibilities are just as cool as their nicknames and are as vital to an offense’s success as their monikers might suggest.
Each one, at any given time on the field, are responsible for providing blocks for the pass and run, reading defensive schemes and providing the occasional pancake tackle or block — all actions that need performing in order to run a successful offense.
BY hasn’t been an exception to this rule this year as its offensive line — comprised of senior Justin Mitil along with juniors Ahmad Byrd, Tyler Jefferson and Hunter Satterfield and sophomore Devon Thompson and freshman William Caldwell have all played key roles in the Bucs’ breakout season.
A few weeks back against Carrboro, junior running back Michael Slade broke loose for a 61-yard scoring run midway through the third period. A few minutes later, Slade’s partner in crime, senior running back Jacob Scales followed with a 61-yard touchdown scamper of his own that put the game out of reach. Winding down the big play train, sophomore quarterback Brendan Nunnally found junior Quinton Noble for a 63-yard touchdown reception and closed out the scoring with a 47-yard touchdown toss to sophomore wide receiver Davon Lipscomb.
BY (9-2, 2-2 Mid-State 2A) set its share of records during its Nov. 1 matchup against the Jaguars. The Bucs set the program’s single-game passing record with 342 yards, tied the program’s single-game passing touchdown record with four and broke the program’s mark in total overall yards with 524.
Individual game records aren’t the only ones the Bucs have broken this season, though. In fact, BY stat keepers have probably started keeping their books in pencil as the Buccaneers have torn through overall season records as well.
BY has set single-season program bests in passing yards (1,401), passing yards per game (127.4), passing touchdowns (17) and passing touchdowns per game (1.5). And while Nunnally, Scales, Slade, Noble and Lipscomb have received a chunk of the credit, the Bucs’ o-line knows it gets in where it fits in.
“I feel like we all play a very key part in the offense,” Satterfield said. “But because we’re not the ones scoring and stuff, we often get overlooked a lot of times but we know we do a good job.”
While lesser linemen might feel a bit jealous being left in the shadows, the team’s success has been a motivating factor for Mitil.
“We like watching everybody catching the ball, running the ball, making big plays,” Mitil said. “That makes us more hype and makes us want to go out and block even more so watching them makes us love what we do that much more.”
Offensive linemen are traditionally the biggest men on the field. Back in the day, linemen usually weighed in at 250-plus but today’s game features 300-400 pound bruisers who can lay a pancake block faster than a griddle. While BY’s starting line may not feature any 300-plus pound guys — its combined weight is 255 pounds — they have still packed enough punch this season to knock a few guys back into the second grade.
“You’ve just got to remember where you came from and you got to think about the grind you put into the game,” Caldwell said. “You got to think about what you’re doing this for and think about your brothers beside you and remember you’re not playing for yourself but for this team. This family. It’s a different mindset. It’s not about you.”
One of the most common adages heard is the old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” While the Bucs’ intense practices have left them pretty close to perfection, it’s also left them as one of the strongest, fittest lines in Mid-State 2A.
“I like other teams to feel the same pain we feel every day during practice,” Byrd said. “Because when we are practicing and hitting each other in practice, we don’t necessarily want to hit our guy that hard but we do and then when it comes to somebody else, it’s a different idea. You want to put a hurting on them.”
Jefferson added, “I feel like every time we go up against somebody else, we’re so much more in shape than them because of all the work we put in during the offseason and regular season in not only practice, but the weight room as well. They just can’t handle us.”
While the work in practice, the weight room and in the film room have all been instrumental to BY’s offensive line’s success, there has been one other factor that rises above all.
“I feel like our o-line has a different kind of chemistry,” Caldwell said. “We just stick together and communicate. We’ve been killing it so far this season and it’s because we have good communication and we’ve finally realized that’s what we need.”
“Even though I might know the play, they might not, so I talk to them and we figure it out,” Mitil said. “And the same when I don’t know the play. We talk to each other, communicate because if we don’t do that, everything’s going to get screwed up.”
Byrd concluded, saying, “We make sure that everybody’s on the same page because if we have the running backs and receivers on a different page, it’s not going to go right of course because we’ve got the wrong run blocks or pass blocks set up. So, we have to know the scheme before it happens and communicate with each other.”