Running the line: a tribute to unsung football heroes


Photo by Christine O’Laughlin

Captain Cooper Bartlett and the Lancer linemen pose for a picture after their game. The Lancers beat the Pinkerton Astros by a score of 42-24.

You might know senior quarterback Jake McEachern. You might know senior running back Jeffery Wiedenfeld. But, do you know senior Cooper Bartlett, offensive center and varsity captain? How about senior Justin Miller, offensive guard?

Even if you do know them, you probably don’t know what they do on the team because these boys are just two of many that make up the varsity football team linemen. While they may be the so-called “lesser known” half of the team, they are the building blocks to every play. 

“It’s probably the most important position on the field,” Bartlett said. “If you don’t have good linemen, you can’t move the ball down the field, and you can’t make those plays that you need to time for.”

While each position acts similarly on the field, there are actually three set positions for the linemen to play. 

Offensive and defensive tackle, who usually deal with the opposing team’s linebackers or ball carriers, depending on their place in offense or defense. 

Guard has to make sure they trap, or keep the right players away from the ball carrier during run plays. 

Centers will usually block away, toward the line of scrimmage. 

Each position may have a time where they may need to “pull” depending on the play, meaning they go into the backfield.

“Each individual lineman has their set role, and they have a job to do, and that’s to play the game,” Bartlett said.

Not every lineman expected to be one when they first stepped onto the field. Players like junior EJ Donovan, who has played offensive tackle since sixth grade, are linemen because they might be chosen for this position when they started playing.

“They put me on lineman position ‘cause I was a big kid when I was little,” Donovan said. 

A game without its linemen would only be a 7-vs.-7 match, which would just be men running and passing the ball with no blocking or obstructions. Without running backs and quarterbacks, it would just be a blocking fest with no purpose because there isn’t anyone possessing the ball. 

“We all do our own thing to the game,” Donovan said. “We all have our own part. Jake’s slinging [the ball] or running it, and Jeff’s running it. But the linemen are just blockers. That’s our job. We all have our different skills and our different strengths and weaknesses. You hear Jeff or Jake in an interview, they’ll probably bring up the linemen. We have something special going.”