Don’t cross this lineEDGERTON — The offensive line of DC Claar, Austin DeJong, Austin Mertens and Johnny Menning for Edgerton/Ellsworth’s football team average about 192.5 pounds. Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge an offensive line by its size.
EDGERTON — The offensive line of DC Claar, Austin DeJong, Austin Mertens and Johnny Menning for Edgerton/Ellsworth’s football team average about 192.5 pounds. Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge an offensive line by its size.
Behind Claar, DeJong, Mertens and Menning, the E/E offense has rushed for 3,624 yards, thrown for 2,574 yards and has averaged 477 yards and over 54 points per game en route to a 13-0 record and a trip to the Metrodome for the Class 9-man state championship game versus Wheaton/Herman-Norcross at 10 a.m Friday.
“We take a lot of pride in our line,” E/E coach Andrew Fleischman said. “They are very hard workers and they get after it every practice.
“They aren’t the biggest group of guys, but they play hard-nosed, they’re athletic, they pull very well and they do a very good job in pass protection.”
The work of an offensive line is not glorified or publicized or even given true statistics in a box score. It’s the invisible work which goes unnoticed, but is the difference between a win and a loss.
“Over your career you get used to getting no credit,” DeJong said. “Our coaches and our players give us a lot of credit, so we know we matter to them.”
E/E quarterback Isaac Heard certainly appreciates the work his line puts in the trenches.
“It sure makes skill players’ jobs a lot easier when you have a line blocking for you,” Heard said. “When you have all day to sit back there in the pocket and make reads, it makes the job easy.
“You feel a lot safer, knowing all I have to do is throw the football and I won’t get hit.”
Running back Derek Voge echoed Heard’s sentiments.
“We don’t have the biggest size, but all of them work hard, get their feet moving, they hustle every play and it usually pays off really well for us,” Voge said.
The E/E offensive line may be small on paper, but to running back Devin Hulstein they are far bigger.
“They’re huge,” Hulstein said. “They have to know what is happening on every play.
“If they don’t do their jobs then we run for a loss.”
Heard was sacked five times on the season and wasn’t touched in the pocket in E/E’s 48-20 win over Ada-Borup. Thanks to extra time in the pocket, Heard was 17 for 19 for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
“We know that if we give Isaac time, with the receivers we have, we will be successful through the air,” Fleischman said. “Four of the times Heard was sacked on the season, he had three seconds to throw the ball, so our line has given him plenty of time.”
The E/E offensive line has a tough task versus WHN in the state title game. Defensive linemen Evan Ellison (210 pounds, 6’3”) and Austin Russell (226 pounds, 6’3”) are not only big boys, but had their seasons ended the last two years at the hands of the Flying Dutchmen.
“That’s in the past,” Claar said. “It’s kind of difficult, knowing that we beat them the last two years.
“To me, it adds pressure, since we should win against them.”
DeJong did what he always does; he came to the protection of his team.
“We will be ready for whatever they bring at us,” DeJong said.
Fans and box scores may not appreciate what happens in the trenches, but, after a win, film sessions certainly are a pretty picture.
“It’s neat because when you watch film you get to see that if you do your job right and the whole line is in-sync, the play is beautiful,” Claar said.
DeJong was quick to add to Claar’s statement.
“And if one guy screws up, it all falls apart and we hear about it,” DeJong said.
Ignored until something goes wrong; so goes the life of the offensive lineman.