The story from an old offensive lineman
|By Aaron Schultz|
No credit, no glory, no problems that is the story for any offensive lineman from high school through professional football.
I, myself, was an offensive lineman my senior year of football for the Lester Prairie Bulldogs back in 1994.
And boy, did I want nothing to do with it when the coaches first brought up the possibility of me playing line after my junior season.
See, like most kids, I didn’t grow up playing football, imagining playing the line.
First, I wanted to be a running back, when the Schultz curse found me. That is the curse of being slow, which all of us Schultzes are. The exception being my aunt Jenni (Schultz) Sebora, which makes the rule sound.
After I watched my running back days go out the window, I turned my attention to wanting to play quarterback, while spending most of my time on the offensive, playing tight end.
Now, with tight ends, coaches, especially from smaller programs, like to group them in with the lineman because they spend way more of their time blocking than catching passes, but I’m not going to go down that route.
See, when I played tight end for the majority of my junior year, I at least had it in the back of my mind that I could catch a pass and get on the stat sheet.
That glimmer of just a little bit of glory separates tight ends from the run of the mill lineman.
On the line, your name doesn’t get called during the game when you do what you are supposed to do block a defender and create a hole for your running back to run through, or keep a defensive lineman from sacking the quarterback so he can have time to find an open receiver and complete a pass.
As a lineman, the only time you really get noticed is when you are not doing your job, like giving up a sack.
Then, if the line does get recognition for doing a good job, they are all grouped together.
You always hear something like, “Boy, did the line just push the other team around,” or “We just dominated the other team up front.”
I, personally, loved to hear that kind of stuff when I played, because I didn’t have any illusions when I played on the line.
On the line, I knew there wasn’t going to be a big headline in the newspaper saying I sealed off the middle linebacker so one of the running backs could break off a 40-yard touchdown run.
No, it was always Jake Kohler, or Jason Hertzog rushing for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, while the offensive line opened some nice holes.
I knew where I stood, I was an offensive line. No glory.
Was I upset about it? No, I was a lineman!
Were my parents all wound up because the running backs and quarterbacks got all the press, even though I was the part of the offensive line that was leading the way for them? No!
I knew, and my parents knew, that was football.
Now, as a sports reporter myself, I more than understand what it might be like for the current group of offensive line for the Lakers and the Bulldogs.
Those linemen include, for the Lakers’ Emmett Lynch, Hunter Day, Jason Koch, Eric Arlien, Derek Youngren, and Brian Krienke; and for the Bulldogs’ Nik Gustafson, Jeremy Quass, Lucus Kloos, Kevin Roepke, Spenser Stender, Eric Eiden, Josh Artmann, and Travis Maesse.
Either it is HLWW’s Jake Young rushing for over 1,000 yards and leading the way for the Lakers, or LP/HT’s Lyndon Zakama carrying the load offensively for the Bulldogs.
Rarely, if ever, do I write that a specific lineman had a good game blocking, or so-and-so made the key block to spring Zakama or Young for that long touchdown run.
That is just the way it goes for lineman. They do the dirty work, and come Monday morning in the newspaper, it is the skilled position players that garner the headlines.
Anyone that knows an ounce about football knows the lineman are the key to the team. They then also know that playing offensive line means playing in obscurity.
That is just the way it is. Does it make it right? Probably not, but there it is.