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I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 2009 SEC championship game between the University of Florida and Alabama. While watching the game, a good friend of mine and football aficionado turned to me and said, “I could average three yards a carry if I had Alabama’s offensive line.” I laughed at the 5”8’, 155-pound 19-year-old. But as I continued to watch the game, and see the Crimson Tide roll over the Gators, the bold claim made more and more sense. Sure Alabama featured two future first-round draft picks in the backfield. Still, the gaps the line paved for them were massive. They were almost as large as the wholes bored by Chiefland High School’s line last Friday night.
Taking nothing away from Alphonso Timmons, Deshawn Rolland, Keith Smith, James Corbin, Josh Smith, Shaquille Patterson, Josh Berger or Sklar Shelton, but when you have eight backs all look good on multiple carries, someone else deserves some credit.
This is the Chiefland team that has fans shouting “Rolland for Heisman”. This is the defense that long-time football boosters and former players are calling the best in 20 years. This is even the team that features, as one football parent said, the first special teams unit in school history that could convert six out of seven extra point attempts. Even with all this, the rejuvenated CHS football program wouldn’t be anywhere without the line.
While Rolland and Timmons and Smith get the stats, it’s the likes of Blayne Brookins, Austin Williams, Jeremy McClellan, Justin Klaus, Grayson Gerhardt and a host of other Indian big men who are making it happen. They’re not just creating running lanes. They’re creating fear. After P.K. Yonge was stuffed on a fourth down attempt early in the first quarter, Patterson fired up his teammates by yelling “They’re scared! They’re scared!” He was right. The Blue Wave never threatened again on offense. Except for a red zone fumble, they never once stopped Chiefland on defense. The Indians had won the game mentally in the first quarter. It isn’t speed that brings fear. It’s power. Chiefland has knocked its opponents off the ball quickly and forcefully. They couldn’t stop the forceful tide.
Had my friend been in the backfield for Chiefland’s last game I bet he could have averaged three yards a carry as well. He would be the first to admit that’s no testament of his own ability. He would have had a lot of talent, and intimidation, blocking for him.