Inside the Ranger locker room: the tenacity of the offensive line

Inside the Ranger locker room: the tenacity of the offensive line

The offensive line has been one of the most sound units in weeks one and two of the early going for the Rangers. With two returning starting and four seniors total making up the impenetrable unit, it makes for a well-oiled machine. FHC’s front five has pounded the ball down field, created a game winning drive, and has not allowed a sack of their two quarterbacks yet. The key has been leadership from senior captain Elijah Gurley and returning center, senior Seth Udell.

“We drill footwork everyday in practice to perfect it every week,” said Elijah, who starts at left tackle. “Our coaching staff does a great job drilling pass pro. We have a team blitz session in practice that gets us ready for any stunts that are thrown our way that particular week.

Last week’s game winning drive was accredited to the offensive line by juniors Luke Majick and Tate Hallock. The drive was able to happen due to the composure of the Luke in the pocket. His composure was made possible by perfectly placed snaps, and relentless blocking up the middle from Seth.

“I just try to be consistent,” said Seth. “I try to bring my experience from last year, and overall positively to help the guys around me.”

O-line can be the most unforgiving position, but this group in particular has embraced the challenge and is one of the most successful groups in recent history.

“Week one we knew we had keep our mental mistakes to a minimum,” said right tackle Christian Balanda. “Going into week two, we knew we had tougher opponents up front. We corrected our mistakes from week one and focused on our one eleventh. We just have to keep getting one percent better every week.”

The thing that can be frustrating about being on the line, is not being noticed until you’re the problem. People watching in the stands don’t call out the outstanding pull from the left guard to make a hole for the back. Instead, they look at the back who walked through a perfectly made hole and into the endzone for a touchdown. On the flip side, if the tackle lets an outside linebacker run free for a sack, everyone in the stadium gripes at the lack of blocking thrown by that part of the line. It makes for an unforgiving lifestyle.

“I think we really learned a lot from last years o-line,” said senior right guard Ryan Gast. “Last year we were close as a unit, and we wanted to carry that over this year. It helps it on game day because we all know we have each other’s backs.”

The one junior on the line, Kyle Wojczynski, has stepped up in his first varsity season, and has filled a guard spot that opened up when former Rangers Alec Elzinga and Nick White graduated. The “young bucka�� of the crew has taken a mature approach.

“We don’t play for ourselves,” Kyle said. “We play for each other and the guys around us and that had built trust throughout everyone on the field. We trust that when one person struggles, another can pick up the slack. It binds us together and makes us one.”

The success has been prominent in weeks one and two for the offensive line. The weeks ahead will hold more and more importance, especially with the OK white conference lurking ahead in their next six games. Elijah thinks this crew is more prepared than any in the past.

“We cherish the challenge of protecting our quarterback,” Elijah said. “No one wants to be the first guy to give up that first sack. We’re ready to go and will continue to strive for perfection each week.”