2015-10-02 / Sports

Holding the line

Hard work paying off for Wells O-line
By WIL KRAMLICH Sports Staff Writer

WELLS — Wells head football coach Tim Roche said his team doesn’t have a feature back this year. He said instead that his team has five backs that can all run the ball, and they have done so equally through four games this season.

Roche said what that shows is something that for a while now hasn’t been a secret at Wells – that the offensive line is pretty good.

Those five backs have been helped out by five linemen – six if you count the constant presence of a tight end – that have made life easier for whoever gets the call to run the ball.

“Our backs are great. They always thank us for the holes,” said senior center Matt Healey. “They get all the glory, but on this field we get glory for blocking well.”

“It is a labor of love for them, but the end result is if you can win consistently – as much as the running back gets the glory – you know you’re doing a part,” Roche said of his offensive line.

That starting line consists of junior tight end Deandre Woods, junior left tackle Courtland Austin, senior left guard Jake Lareau, Healey, junior right guard Cody Brassard and junior right tackle David Ouellette.

At Wells, it all starts with the line, according to Lareau.

“You have to be the one that wants to come out and play more than anyone else on the field. And you have to set the tone,” said Lareau. “Coach (Carmen) Perri always says ‘you got to come out, you’re the ones that got to set the tone for the whole team.’”

Both Healey and Lareau, as well as Roche, pointed to the Warriors’ two offensive line coaches as a big reason for the unit’s perpetual success.

“To be honest with you it’s having two great line coaches. Coach Perri’s been here 36 years – he coached me when I was in high school – and then Coach (Kevin) Fox, they both work real hard on their offensive line,” said Roche.

How the line is coached is also a big part, according to Roche.

“It’s about technique, it’s never about scheme. We do some scheme work, but really our focus every day is on technique,” said Roche. “When people ask me, and it happens a lot, why, as our offensive line progresses through the year, we seem to get better and better, I say ‘because every day we work the same thing.’ We work on drive-block progression every day.”

Roche called the repetitive daily driveblock progression work “a pain in the (butt) for the linemen” but it is imperative in perfecting the fundamentals of blocking.

It’s a plan that has worked out well for the Warriors, who have averaged 39.5 points through four games – scoring at least four touchdowns in each game. Rarely do those scores come through the air in Roche’s Wing-T formation.

“We get those big holes, we get the big plays going,” Lareau said of the line. “We get 30-yard gains on some of our plays pretty easily, because we got those huge holes.”

“Most of our plays are running plays. We are going to want to run it down your throats, hit you hard, drive block you,” said Healey. “It’s just the way we play football – hard and fast.”

That running mentality doesn’t waver, no matter the opponent, said Lareau.

“You want to show that you can run the ball when you’re running against a team twice your size, every kid,” said Lareau, who weighs in at just 165 pounds. “It’s something that we pride ourselves on and we’ve always been able to do.”

“We never traditionally have very big kids. But what we’re asking them to do is angles,” said Roche. “It’s all about angles and setting up the easiest block you can make. It’s all about angles in the Wing-T and that’s why it’s a great offense for what we want to do.”

Roche also said his offense is built for football in November, when the Warriors will hopefully still be playing.

“We’re running on grass, and a lot of times it ain’t even grass anymore. It’s the mud and you got to mud it up and get it done, and we got some tough mudders that will do it,” said Roche.

Both Roche and his veteran linemen admit that there’s still work to be done by the end of the season – whenever that may be.

“We make a ton of mistakes still. We’re making mistakes that we hope we’re not going to make week eight or nine,” said Roche.

Sports Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or sports@journaltribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.

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