The offensive and defensive lines of a football team are the definition of blue-collar.
They work in the trenches and don’t often get the notoriety that skill positions get but it’d be impossible to play football without the line and more specifically, the center.
The center, along with the quarterback, are most often the only two players to touch the football on every single offensive possession and because of an injury to their starter, the center position has been a revolving door for the Red Devils.
Owensboro offensive line coach Todd Houston said he’s not surprised his team has still been successful despite the setbacks at center.
“I think it’s just a testament of the kids here at Owensboro High School because they’re selfless,” he said.
Junior Ryland Chaney started the season at center but went down with an injury during the Red Devils 55-0 drumming of Muhlenberg County.
After Chaney, it was a tough couple of weeks for OHS as Houston tried to find the piece that would fit in their dynamic offense.
“Ryland was a really good center for us and when he was injured, we had a big loss right there,” he said.
Zack Humphrey, Jerrick Williams and Jak Lindsey, all played the position after Chaney went down with Lindsey getting the job near the end of the season.
“The thing I can say about all those guys … They’re very selfless, they don’t care who’s at that position, they’re encouraging each other,” he said. “It’s so cool to see Ryland right now, who’s injured, finding little ways to encourage and coach up Jak. That’s the culture we’ve built on the offensive line where it’s not about who’s at those positions, it’s about just getting the job done, protecting the quarterback on Friday nights, making sure the receivers have time to catch those pretty passes, making sure the running backs have good holes to run through.
“That’s the great thing about the offensive line is it’s such a selfless position. It’s pure football at its finest. It’s just going out there and having fun, blocking until the whistle blows. I would say we have a great group of 10 men rather than five starters because those other five have embraced their role the past few weeks as far as getting our starters ready.”
Houston said the movement at center this season has been difficult but the team, and junior quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, have adjusted when they’ve needed to.
Houston said Wimsatt’s attitude is a big reason they’ve still been on a roll.
“He’s been patient with us because it hasn’t been pretty a lot of times,” he said. “We try to work hard at it and the kids work hard at it and he works hard at it. He comes out with the other centers. There’s a certain sense of just camaraderie you want with your center and your quarterback that we lost when Ryland went down then we were trying to gain that with all the other guys that were playing but Gavin’s just done a great job of being patient and letting us coach up the centers and giving us feedback. The great thing about Gavin is he’s a tall guy so if the snaps a little high, it’s okay sometimes.”
Bowling Green has given up 780 rushing yards this season, which is third in Class 5A as the Purples are also tops in team defense in the class as they’ve only allowed 9.8 points per game this season.
Houston said he knows the offensive line is going to be crucial Friday afternoon.
“Bowling Green’s a very good football team,” he said. “Their defensive line is really good. They do a nice job with their scheme and we’re just going to prepare our kids the best we can and our kids have always believed in the scheme and in the gameplan and they go out each week. Throughout this week, we’re going to work on executing it. We’re going to go out there Saturday and execute it to its finest and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. Each week is a new opponent and you’ve got to respect your opponent each week. I hate to say this but the Frederick Douglass game is in the past and we’re focused on Bowling Green right now.”