BY ROB WITZEL
CAYUGA, Ind. —
Riley Chew, Lucas Clark, Robby Davis, Scott Thomason and Dakota Uplinger.
Unless you are a big-time follower of North Vermillion football you probably don’t know these names.
The names of these young men won’t appear in the Saturday morning box scores or are they very often named the player of the game, but without them, the team goes nowhere.
They are the offensive line.
“That group is the heart and soul of our team.” North Vermillion coach Brian Crabtree said. “If you’re successful, typically it’s because you have a good offensive line. They realize their name isn’t usually in the paper, and people aren’t talking about them, but they don’t care. They want to play well and win, that’s what really matters to them.”
Chew, Clark, Davis, Thomason and Uplinger have meshed well together and developed a special bond that has helped Falcons to an undefeated regular season, a Wabash River Conference title and their second straight IHSAA Class A Sectional Championship.
“We obviously spend a lot of time together practicing with each other every day, but off the field too,” said Chew, a senior guard. “I feel like we’ve come together as more than just as a team, but as brothers. There’s a connection there. We work well together and everybody gets along.
“At some points it’s like we can read each other’s minds with knowing who to block, when to block and how to get the job done.”
Behind the front five, the offense has excelled. Quarterback Brayden Woodard has run for 1,355 yards and 28 touchdowns. The line has also provided ample throwing time for Woodard to reach 1,413 passing yards and 19 touchdowns.
“They are the most important part of our team,” Woodard said. “If they don’t block, we can’t run, pass or do anything.”
Woodard isn’t the only one with success and a good looking stat line as running back Kody Zumwalt has also had a monster season. The senior has 1,372 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“Without those guys we don’t rush at all.” Zumwalt said. “They have done an exceptional job, we’ve each ran for over 1,000 yards and without them, that doesn’t happen.”
The offensive linemen take their jobs seriously, but have also blended in the right amount of fun.
With inside jokes and their own special “language” the guys are working hard and having a good time doing it.
“The linemen have their own talk.” Zumwalt joked. “They’ll get up to the line and start hollering. It sounds like Chinese to the rest of us.”
On Friday night, the Falcons will once again rely on their front five as they take on Indianapolis Scecina Memorial.
“We’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage,” Crabtree said. “We have some dynamic athletes that can carry the football but it starts with us being able to control the offensive and defensive line.”