The trenches. It is a place that few backs or receivers like to
end up. A place where large, hard-working men make their living
hitting and being hit, just to make other people look good. They
are the masters of moves like the chop and pancake blocks, and
double teams are just another day at work. They are the
“In the trenches, that’s where the real men play,” said senior
defensive lineman Patrick Goodpaster. “We don’t score touchdowns,
or get all the statistics or all the fame. We just get to bust
heads and hit every single play. That’s where the real men
They represent the primitive essence of football, and embody the
words “smash-mouth football.” Their primary responsibility is the
line of scrimmage. On every play they are asked to relocate to the
opponent’s side of the ball, and on every play they go head-to-head
and belly-to-belly, with other 250-300 pound men who are trying to
punish, hurt and put them into the ground to take that line from
“We don’t have stats,” said senior offensive lineman Erik Pears.
“We take pride in being able to be physical on every play, and
putting guys in the dirt. That’s what we take pride in.”
It is a tough go in the trenches. It gets mucky, physical and
often painful, and it is never pretty. Linemen are often on the
bottoms of the piles, and in the middle of large scrums and it can
get dirty and mean.
“We just have to come out and be meaner than they are,” said
senior defensive lineman Jonathon Simon. “It’s a battle every day.
You just gotta play hard.”
The offensive line is the best example of the team concept of
football. They are like a band of brothers, without one another
they all look bad and will fail, but when all do their job right
and as a unit, no one notices a thing.
“You have to be real close, on the offensive line, with the guy
next to you,” Pears said. “You’re making calls with each other and
pulling combo blocks. You gotta know how he plays, because you
gotta play with each other.”
On the defensive line, there is still cohesiveness and a unit,
but individual players can still make game-breaking plays. The
defensive line is about pressure on the ball carrier and the
quarterback, and if a front four can control the line of scrimmage,
a defensive coordinator can dream up schemes all day long to
showcase his linebackers and secondary.
Linemen are not just about brute strength; they also have to
think while out on the field, before and during the play. Both
sides must read formations and make proper calls and adjustments
according to the opponent’s alignment before the play. Once the
play has started it becomes instinctual. Offensive linemen have to
find the blitzes and pass off linemen on stunts, while defensive
linemen have to read for a pass or a run, and also beware of
screens and delayed runs.
When the dust has settled and all is done, these men walk off
the field knowing that their name is probably not going to make the
paper the next day. They walk off knowing that they are not going
to have the long stat lines, but it does not matter.
“A win, that is all it is about. It’s all about wins,”
All the sacrifice, the blood, the sweat, the pain, the work, the
muck and grime, the bottom of the pile and hitting someone every
down. That is what the trenches are about, and that is where the
game’s most important battles take place.
“All is forgotten with a win,” Pears said.