A look inside the Truckee trenches
Sierra Sun sports editor
It’s not all the time that a high school football team is fortunate to have five senior linemen to anchor a group that represents the most “all-guts and no-glory” positions in football: The offensive line.
Ian Casey, Pat Baird, Logan Hunt, Jon Riley and Kendal Burton ” a unit that has started together since the beginning of the season ” have opened holes in the running game and protected quarterback Paul Tierney with such efficiency that the Wolverines are averaging an astonishing 425 total yards per game.
Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer said the unit as a whole has a work ethic that not only makes the coaches’ jobs easier, it also provides a good example for the backup linemen.
“One of the things that makes them unique is a lot of times they’ve taken it upon themselves to work on their own,” Shaffer said. “Not only have they worked hard, they’ve become mentors for those working behind them.”
Experience has also factored in to the line’s success. Hunt was an honorable mention all-state selection at guard in 2003. This season, Hunt has moved to the center position. Left tackle Burton is a two-year starter, as well as right tackle Casey. Riley jumped into a starting role about halfway through the schedule last year. Baird is a first-year starter, but he has two years of varsity know-how.
Besides staying healthy through 10 games, the reason the group has prospered is their communication skills ” an essential element to a successful offensive ine.
“They feel comfortable communicating and making adjustments, so we don’t have to do that for them,” Shaffer said.
In any group that gets along well, different individual personalities blend together around a common cause. For any Truckee football team, that cause is always to win a state championship, something Truckee will have the chance to do when it tackles Moapa Valley Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas (3 p.m.).
Shaffer has spent two seasons with the five players, and below are his thoughts about what makes each one a special offensive lineman:
-IAN CASEY, right tackle, No. 50, 5-foot-10, 225 pounds: “Ian’s the type that thinks he’s a fullback in a lineman’s uniform; and fullbacks tend to be very good blockers. In that respect, he does a good job blocking in open space. He’ll spend a lot of time chasing linebackers and free safeties.”
-PAT BAIRD, right guard, No. 68, 5-foot-10, 180 pounds: “He’s the kid that initially might be perceived as a little too small, a little too slow. When you look at him, you would think he’s not the type of person that would be starting on the offensive line. But he’s persevered and made himself a productive player. He’s a self-made football player. He’s one of those guys who work extra hard and by the time they’re seniors, they fill a role.”
-LOGAN HUNT, center, No. 59, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds: “He’s probably the strongest of all the linemen. He’s one of those guys that brings his lunch pail and will outwork you all day long.”
-JON RILEY, left guard, No. 51, 6-foot, 195 pounds: “He’s the spokesman for the group. If he feels that something is not right or someone is not doing their job, he’s the first to speak up for the linemen as a group. He’s also one of the more athletic in the bunch ” he does a lot of pulling and trapping. We like to move him out and open up space.”
-KENDAL BURTON, left tackle, No. 76, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds: “He’s the bull in a China shop. He doesn’t just like hitting you, he likes hurting you. He’s not satisfied unless he pancakes you. He’s been a great worker. He’s another one of those blue-collar type guys that comes to practice and works hard.”
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