BY COLLIN BROOKS
A mix of size, speed and experience has helped the front line of Daniel Boone propel their team to a 2-0 start. While the nicknames associated with offensive lineman, like hogs and big uglies, are never flattering. This front line is the glue of the team and it’s easy to see that they have cleared the way for Boone’s early success.
A mix of two seniors and four juniors had led the way for 507 rushing yards and 766 total yards of total offense in just two contests to lead the Mountain East Conference.
Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said that his team will continue to rely on the beasts up front the rest of the way.
“We go like they do and that is always how it is at the line of scrimmage, we are going to put a lot of emphasis on that group and we are going to go as far as they will take us,” Jenkins said.
While the O-line may not have as many senior leaders from last season, they have molded into their own form and haven’t look back, they’ve simply pushed forward.
“I think the biggest thing is attitude, I think they have changed their attitude and kind of bought in,” Offensive line coach Ethan Good said. “They’ve come out here to practice and they have worked their tails off this summer and that is why we are where we need to be.”
The line is anchored by the leadership on the left side, with two three-year starters in senior left guard Turner and junior left tackle Bailey Presnell.
“Our hard work shows on the film and how many yards we have after the game,” Turner said.
It also shows when their skill players are rushing down the field from a gap that the big uglies created.
“It’s a good thing to see #27 (Mason Mounger) run down the field in front of us,” Turner said through a smile.
His senior center Christian Bowman agreed.
“There is no better feeling than seeing our skill guys run down the field or get into that end zone and hearing that band strike up,” he said.
Bowman has played in different spots through his time at Boone, but finally the 6-foot-4, 310-pound senior found a home at center and he has impressed his coaches.
“He kept finding his way back to center every time, so that is where he is best for us,” Good said.
Presnell is the leader of the junior class and another heavy load up front at 6-3 and 290 lbs. He said that having a group that has played together for a while is another positive for the Blazers.
“We are definitely a tight group and it helps knowing that we can count on one another to get us through the tough times,” Presnell said.
Those three are the beef of the offensive line, while the right side is just a little bit smaller. But they still have the speed and experience to do their job.
Junior right tackle Walker Burleson, who measures at 5’9 and 185 lbs. played sparingly as a sophomore and played through the spring as the center, but he said he doesn’t mind playing where the team needs him most.
“You have to think of ways to get lower and be faster than the guy in front of you and you also have to think about what move he might be trying to pull next,” Burleson said. “
Just beside him is junior right guard Drew Thompson who started midway through the season last year at 5’9 and 185 lbs.
But don’t let the small size fool you, Thompson says playing up front is as much about leverage as it is about strength.
“We are quicker and a little lower to the ground, so we can get a bigger advantage on the bigger guys,” Thompson said.
Sophomore Jeremiah Sullivan is the last piece of the puzzle and he steps in as left tackle at times. Sullivan said that whenever his number is called, he has to hold up his end of the deal and be ready for whatever comes his way.
“You always have to be ready for the unexpected, because you never know what is going to happen,” Sullivan said. “You just have to do your part of the play and then things will happen.”
This season, the offensive line has been doing their part and helping the Blazers blitz out to a 2-0 record. Having an talented and tamed front line is something that Good says brings a bit of ease to the huddle.
“Anytime that you have the experience that they bring to the table, with the attitude in the huddle, when you have to get a yard or you have to get three yards, or you need a touchdown, whatever it may be, they bring it to the whole offense,” Good said. “We challenge them each week to be the most physical group and we have done that the best weeks.”
They will face the ultimate challenge when they welcome the Cyclones to their stadium on Friday night.