The Front Line of a Team’s Domination

Wreckings will have to wait one more day before it faces its final test of the season. Photo by Brendan Rand

Wreckings will have to wait one more day before it faces its final test of the season. Photo by Brendan Rand

Brendan Rand ‘11 and Jeremy Dreyfuss ‘11
Staff Writers

Wrecking Crew: The offensive line credits hard work and unity for its success.
Wrecking Crew: The offensive line credits hard work and unity for its success. | Photo by Jeremy Dreyfuss ‘11

The shortest of them stands six feet tall and weighs 215 pounds. They cast long shadows in the hallways, and one immediately knows they play football.

On the field, they fend off opposing defenders, allowing the offense to excel. They are one of the biggest reasons as to why Staples is currently undefeated and are going into the Class LL State Championship game. They are the catalysts to the consistency of the offense, which has helped the team to the 2009 FCIAC Championship and stand as the top seed in the Class LL State Playoffs.

But few would have ever guessed how important they are.

That’s because these five seniors-Ryan Vaughn ‘10, Alex Mullen ‘10, Devin Graber ‘10, Connor Bohling ‘10, and Adam Rosenbloom‘10-start on the offensive line. Despite their obvious importance to the team, they are never considered to be stars or heroes of the game.

“We don’t get as much attention as some other positions do,” Mullen, the starting right guard, said.

Make no mistake though. This is one of the hardest positions to play in football, requiring arduous hours of daily training .

“There’s a lot of lifting, running, and quick foot drills,” said Bohling, the starting left tackle. “We worked on our feet in the off season, doing stairs and lateral movements, and also did squats and power cleans in the weight room.”

“The line is our battery. Without the line showing up on every play, we can’t win. Our performance as a whole depends almost completely on the line,” – Chester Pajolek ’11

It might seem easy to think that being a lineman is all about strength. However, agility and quick feet are just as important as power. This is why the line spends a great deal of time on their feet as well as in the weight room.

In addition to training, linemen must work to be ready for whatever the defensive line in front of them tries to do.

“I’ve learned the importance of adapting to unexpected situations, for example, the defensive line lining up in a different formation than what we practiced against all week,” said Vaughn, the team’s center. “As an offensive lineman, you need to be ready for everything, and have the confidence that you can make your block, no matter what defense the other team is lined up in.”

Eighteen-year veteran offensive line coach Jesse McCray said all of the hard work has been paying off so far this year. He also points out that starting the off season upon returning from Thanksgiving Break in 2008 was the catalyst for this season’s success.

McCray is referring to the 27-0 Thanksgiving Day loss to rival Greenwich High School to finish 6-5 last year. The coaches and players were determined to improve right away, hence the earlier start to the off season.

Talking to the players, it is clear that the coaches on the team have influenced their players to work hard and have spread their knowledge to them, which has translated to great success.

“The coaches put in so such time; they don’t see their families during the week just so the line and team can be successful. Without them there’s no [undefeated record]. The credit goes all to the coaches,” Bohling said.

Another source of good leadership has come from a captain of the Wreckers and the nucleus of its offensive line, Devin Graber. Graber, who has been an offensive lineman since he was in fifth grade, has shown his capability of leadership and dedication on the team this year.

“During practice, I make sure everyone on the line is clear with all his assignments and will double check everything with coach to make sure we’ve got our schemes right,” Graber said. “During games, I make sure everyone is fired up at all times while helping my teammates keep level heads when things don’t go right on a play.”

The other seniors are also always glad to help.

“If [the younger players] ask questions about certain blocking schemes or things of that nature [I’m] always glad to help them,” added starting right tackle Rosenbloom.

With the seniors there to help them to become better, the younger players on the team really look up to the older players and have benefited from their leadership.

Mike Giunta ‘11 believes that the seniors are definite role models, setting strong examples of work ethic and leadership towards the younger players.

Despite the highlighted leadership of seniors like Graber, the key to success for the Wreckers offensive line has come primarily from their unity. When it comes to game time, the line works together and performs as one.

“My role on the line is not as an individual, but as a part of the machine, we are coached to function as one,” said Ventura. “As a unit, we use different techniques, motions, and schemes to make the offense work. Without us, the backs cannot rush for 105 yards, the quarterback can’t throw accurate passes, and touchdowns cannot be created.”

Quarterback Chester Pajolek ‘11 agrees with the importance of the line’s consistency in the offense.

“The line is our battery. Without the line showing up on every play, we can’t win” said Pajolek. “Our performance as a whole depends almost completely on the line.”

Leadership, training, and unity have all been equal in helping this line become one of the best offensive line units in recent years.

“The work in the weight room, running, film study, [and] just being together has restored a pride to a unit that was lost last year” added McCray. “Everyone wants to have a winning team and experience all the rewards that come with winning but what separates this group from many is that these kids wanted to be great the Monday after Thanksgiving, not two weeks before the season start[ed].”

As Staples gets set for the Championship game against Cheshire on Saturday, Dec. 5, the offensive line will be depended on once again to bring the Wreckers success and lead them to victory. With all of the success and talent that they have had this year, it would surprise no one if they continued to do well.