LEHI — There is no more invisible position group on the Skyridge football team than the offensive line.
Towering over most of their teammates and weighing nearly 300 pounds each, when the Falcons’ offensive linemen walk onto a football field, they are easily the most noticeable players on it and yet at Skyridge they fly under the proverbial radar, unknown, unnamed, not touted in any way.
That is, as it turns out, just the way they like it.
“They don’t care about credit,” Skyridge head coach Jon Lehman said. “They like being nameless, faceless and doing the dirty work. That is fun for them.”
That dirty work, in the so called trenches, has been vital to the Falcons’ success this season.
Heading into the 5A state championship game against the Corner Canyon Chargers, Skyridge boasts one of the top-five scoring offenses in the classification (46.3 point per game).
While quarterback Jayden Clemons (2,205 yards passing and 24 touchdowns, as well as 897 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns), running back Ma’a Notoa (1,576 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns) and wide receiver Nathan Upham (999 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns) get the majority of the credit, rightfully so considering the numbers they have put up this season, none of it would be possible if not for the efforts of the Falcons’ O-line.
“The game really comes down to us and how we play,” senior Alex Laford said, and they play with an unmatched physicality, according to Lehman.
“Up front, offensively, we have big, physical, tough guys,” the head coach said. “They just have a tough mindset, a grinders mindset.”
That mindset was particularly notable during the offseason, when as a group the Falcons’ O-line made a commitment to get stronger.
“Our guys really pushed themselves in the offseason in the weight room so that they could really move people” Lehman said. “It is a mindset that is tough, and now if you ask any of our offensive linemen how they like to play football, they’ll tell you they like to be physical. They like to move guys. It is a sense of pride for them.”
Laford, a senior and one of just two linemen named — Andre Yocom was the other, although everyone knows Logan Sagapolu — said as much. “I love getting down and torquing people up, you know? Just going head to head to see who is stronger,” he said.
Run blocking provides the opportunity for that more than pass protection, and it is for that reason that Laford and his fellow O-linemen prefer to run block.
“Run block is my favorite for sure,” said Laford. “People consider pass block easier, but I love getting down to run block.”
“They all like to run block,” added Lehman. “They like to get physical.”
It also helps when you have a ball carrier like Notoa behind you.
“He’s really athletic,” Laford said of the senior running back. “Whatever we do, if we mess up, I know that he can usually bail us out pretty well.”Comment on this story
Physicality aside, there is nothing more important to Laford and his fellow linemen than each other.
“We love each other, we trust each other and we get things done,” said Laford. “We all know each other really well. I’ve known Andre since like ninth grade when we played together on the ninth-grade team. I know the other guys just as well. It is awesome to have them next to me playing. It is awesome to trust in them and work together. There is nothing better than being down there in the trenches with my boys.”