Keith Johnson, Deseret News
HYRUM — It is said behind every great man stands a great woman. In football, behind every great quarterback or running back stands five big-uglies.
That isn't to say the offensive linemen for the title-contending Mountain Crest Mustangs are actually hard on the eyes. It is simply a nickname given to those whose job isn't always the most attractive. But that is just fine with this group.
"It is the only position I have ever played, but I love it," said left guard Frank Pack. "It is physical, it is fun. Even if I could run a 4.5 forty, I would still play on the line."
Mountain Crest quarterback Alex Kuresa has been making headlines for four years now. He gets credit for leading the high-powered offensive attack for the Mustangs, who take on Highland Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 4A state title, but without Joey Jenkins, Blake Lyman, Tanner Collins, Pack, Rhyand Lund and Fernando Huerta, even Michael Vick would have a hard time moving the football.
"We may not get a lot of credit, but we know we have done our job when we see a guy score a touchdown," said Lyman.
The unsung heroes of the offense don't have a nickname like the Washington Redskins "Hogs," but they have been living up to what is expected from Mustang linemen.
"They are just like every year," said line coach Brady Pond. "We are not going to be the biggest, but we coach the kids to make sure they go all-out and leave it all on the field so they don't have any regrets. I think our tenacity and our effort speak for themselves. We are never going to be really overpowering, but we feel like we can still hang, go toe-to-toe with anyone."
"It is a different mentality. We know that it doesn't matter if we are all 6-foot-6 or we are all 5-foot-6, we are going to be able to hang with people because that is just the attitude they have."
Like the incorrectly billed ugly part of the nickname, outside of Huerta (6-foot-5, 295 pounds), Pond is correct when he says his group of big-uglies isn't necessarily big either. Jenkins (6-1, 210 pounds), Lyman (6-1, 250), Collins (6-1, 210), Pack (6-0, 215) and Lund (5-11, 200) aren't physically imposing when they line up against a defense, but they find a way to get the job done.
"Half of us are really easy going, but once a play starts, we turn into freaks on the field," said Jenkins.
"Our coaches do a good job of teaching us the right techniques and how to get some leverage," said Collins. "We may not be big, but we know how to play."
A lineman's name isn't called after a touchdown, but when he continually does his job, and does it well, there is a type of reward.
"I love to dominate people every single play," said Huerta. "It is really satisfying to just see a guy give up, to quit. I love to see that sad face knowing he is just beat."
With this group, that defeated face on an opponent has been quite common, and if the "handsome-smallies" see it enough on Friday, they could add a state championship to their reward as well.
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