They've been a quiet but vital part of the Juneau-Douglas High School football team's success this season.
While the running backs and wide receivers score touchdowns and put points on the board, the Crimson Bears' offensive line can bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.
"They work as one," JDHS line coach Romney Tupou said. "I think from the beginning, as coaches, we've been trying to help them understand that they play a big role on the team. Not only that, we try to get the idea in their heads that they are foundations to this wonderful building we are building this year."
The offensive line - which has regularly featured Justin Behrends, Donny Peterson, Alex Robinson, Will Tonsgard and Lane Miller - has been the silent stars of a potent offense.
What may be more remarkable, however, is how this group of players fails to fit the standard perception of an offensive line.
These five aren't the typical hulking, lumbering behemoths tipping the scales at 300-plus pounds per man. The line averages about 215 pounds per player, which puts them on the small side for average linemen.
Despite heading into every game this season outweighed, the line has used their superior quickness and athleticism to keep the chains moving.
"What has been successful this year is we take care of what is in front of us at the line of scrimmage," Tupou said, "but then the extra blocks down-field. Our heads are always up when we are on the line of scrimmage. We make our blocks then go that extra mile by picking up the backfield."
In addition to speed and effort, the line has shown off their smarts and ability to adjust to any situation.
Peterson, the center, calls out pre-snap blocking schemes based on reading the defensive formation and where the opposing defensive tackle is lined up across from him.
The communication doesn't stop there.
"After every play we try to communicate with the running back," Peterson said. "If he's on a run play, make sure we open the hole just enough so he can get yards through it. It's just execution over and over again. Everyone who has their assignment knows everything."
While the offensive line has helped the team score, the rest of the offense and coaches have shown their appreciation for the line.
Behrends said the running backs let the line know when they're doing well, and sometimes the big boys in the trenches get a chance to shine.
"It's all part of that whole teamwork thing," Behrends said. "If we do good, the linemen get to run the ball sometimes. Joe (Monagle) got to play some running back and I scored a touchdown one time. It's nice."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com
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