- Feature Story
- George Becnel
- December 07, 2017 - 7:32am
If ever an offensive line could be defined as “eclectic” it would be the group of blockers for the Hahnville Tigers in 2017.
It’s not like the entire group has been together since junior high. Some have been around a long time, others are relative new to the position and they vary in experience and size. Like most offensive lines, taken individually, they might not be remarkable. Put them together as a unit, however, and you have a squad that as produced more than 5,000 yards rushing on the season.
“I don’t think they understood coming into the year that it’s not what you do individually, it’s what we do as a group,” said David Baudry, Hahnville’s offensive line coach. “They really bought into that. In practice, we do very few individual blocks. I like to work with their guy next to them. They may be doing the same block on one person but we do it in a team-type format. I think that’s really helped them.
“We talk about, ‘one heartbeat, one unit.’”
One heartbeat and one unit – now, it’s a matter of one more win and the Tigers are state champions. Hahnville takes on Zachary at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Superdome in the New Orleans with the Class 5A state title on the line.
On the line is Noah Zeringue, who made the switch from receiver to tight end and in Hahnville’s offense, there’s a lot more blocking involved than pass catching.
“All these guys kind of welcomed me into the group and really helped,” Zeringue said of the linemen. “They didn’t really accept me at first because I was skinnier than them but it worked out really great. They are a great group of guys.”
Zeringue does have one touchdown catch on the season.
Edwin Wells, the Tigers’ right tackle, is another player who made the switch to the line.
“Edwin moved to offensive line at the beginning of spring last year and immediately I thought he’d be able to play the position. He’s played it way better than we ever expected. He’s more of a get-in-of-your-way type guy, not a drive guy, but he’s really doing a great job of playing the position,” said Baudry.
“It was kind of hard starting off,” said Wells. “It was my first year ever playing offensive line. To go from defensive line, it’s a big transition.”
The leader of the group is right guard Torin Borne.
“He’s played some parts of all four years he’s been here. He had a kind of revelation about the fifth or sixth game last year and since then he’s really played well. He’s physical. He hits with his face. He drives people,” Baudry said.
That revelation came, Borne said, when he started to play not for himself, but for others.
“I started playing for the seniors last year. At one point, I was playing for myself. At midseason, I started recognizing that it was these dudes’ last and as each game I had to step it up and it led to this year,” said Borne.
The center is Gabe Medina.
“Gabe doesn’t look the part but he plays the part. He does a tremendous job of just using what he’s learned as an offensive lineman to block. It’s not over-physical. He’s not over-dominant. He’s really a technical offensive lineman,” said Baudry.
“I’m not the biggest guy but it kind of works out for me. I have to make sure my technique is good on my down blocks,” Medina said.
Next to Madina is D’Quinn Butler at left guard.
“He’s come the longest way of the six guys who play from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint,” said Baudry. “In some games early in the year, there was a question if he would remain the starter. In the last six or eight games, he’s played great.”
A key moment for Butler, the guard said, was when the game started to slow down for him.
“When you start putting it together, you get better over time after seeing different fronts and stuff,” Butler said.
Anchoring the line is big Larry Dixon, the team’s left tackle.
“He transferred in from last year. He started just about every game he has been here. He’s a big presence. He’s a tremendous down blocker and that’s a big part of our scheme,” Baudry said of Dixon.
“It’s an easy job when you have these guys behind me,” Dixon said of his offensive line mates. “They are great guys, great people, and they are fun to play with.”
It’s also a lot of fun, Dixon said, to block for a running back like Anthony “Pooka” Williams.
“You block for a second and then he busts it so after that we are racing down the field trying to get big blocks and big hits,” said Dixon.
“The biggest thing is Anthony hits it so fast, you don’t have to sustain your block,” said Baudry. “We have really worked on making sure we get to the second level and sustain our blocks. One thing Anthony does is cut back and if you let your guy go, that guy is going to be sitting where Anthony is coming, so just sustain your block until the whistle
“They love it. Honestly, who doesn’t? We’ve rushed for more than 5,000 yards as an offense. That’s unbelievable. They take great pride in that.”
There’s great pride but the nature of the position is there is not much individual recognition. Even when being praised, it’s a matter of “the offensive line” did a great job.
“In social media and stuff, that offensive line is not going to get the credit because of how great Pooka is. They don’t mind that. They know their job is easier with a guy like Pooka but they block like I was trying to run the ball,” said Baudry.
Backs like Williams gain the yards and headlines, but the offensive line is there leading the way.
“They appreciate that Anthony gets the limelight, which he deserves, but they know they have been his escorts,” Baudry said.