Clinton-Massie’s “Band of Brothers” were more than happy to take a back seat to a running back last Saturday night.
After all, whether you’re in the back seat or front seat in this Massie football machine, they’re both going to the same place. The Falcons hope that destination is Columbus and another bid for a state football championship.
The five interior offensive linemen — Jake Garrison, J.P. Cantrell, Wyatt Jefferson, Ryan Weiss and Isaac Green — call themselves the “Band of Brothers.” They were instrumental in helping Davey Tunon set a school record for rushing yards in a single game (371) in last week’s 70-14 playoff destruction of Cincinnati Taft.
“Five is one, that’s our motto; that’s what we go by,” said Green, a 6-2, 190-pound junior. “I just love being part of this team and being a part of my ‘Band of Brothers.’”
Weiss, a 6-2, 220-pound senior, said this unit’s work was in full stride even before the season began.
“It comes with the offseason, a lot of us guys working out together trying to get better,” he said. “This is awesome to be part of what he (Tunon) did.”
Cantrell, a 5-10, 230-pound senior, said the line was simply doing what it was supposed to do.
“We did our job and obviously it worked out for us,” he said. “We really pushed it (in practice) and it paid off.”
Coach Dan McSurley works with the offensive line on a daily basis.
“We’re kind of like a team within a team,” said McSurley. “That’s how we look at it. We’re like our own entity.”
To be fair, the linemen received plenty of blocking help from tight ends Trey Uetrecht, Weston Trampler and Cole O’Bryon; backs Jacob Wolf and Brad Hunt; and receivers Bryce Boyd, Tommy Williams and Luke Richardson.
But many times the offensive line goes unnoticed … unless it gives up a sack or the runner gets thrown for a loss.
“We’re a family here,” Garrison said as he looked around at the other four linemen following the win over Taft. “Congratulations to Davey Tunon. He did a great job. He made some awesome plays.
“But the game is won up front on both sides of the ball and we got it done (against Taft).”
CM quarterback Hunter Fentress also has benefited from the strong play of the offensive line. He’s thrown more than any Massie quarterback in recent memory but has rarely been sacked.
“They’ve done a really good job of keeping me protected,” said Fentress. “(Against Taft) I had all kinds of time. They’re taking pride in what they’re doing and they’re doing a really good job at it.”
Garrison, a mammoth 6-3, 285-pound senior with tree-trunk legs, returned to the CM lineup for Taft after missing a couple games. In his place, Jefferson stepped up to fill his shoes, despite being “only” 6-0, 230.
“Getting Jake Garrison back was invaluable,” said McSurley. “That being said, I’ve got to give it to Wyatt Jefferson the past two weeks filling in for Jake when he was healing up.”
Said Jefferson, “Davey’s our boy. We love it (the record) for him.”
Tunon was equally effusive when acknowledging the linemen’s efforts.
“They’re great dudes,” said Tunon, a diminutive but powerfully built football player 5-8, 175-pounds. “I love every single one of them. We come ready to work every day. That’s just kinda the way it is. I’m not going to lie. We get on each other; it’s a mutual thing. We kinda have that self drive, we push each other to the limit and we get better and better every day.”
If that holds true, the rest of the Div. IV teams in Ohio will need to take notice.
“This was just crazy,” said Jefferson. “We had to make a statement to the state of Ohio. That week 2 loss to Steubenville was big for us but we’re coming back.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.