If there’s one area of Elyria High’s football team coach Kevin Fell doesn’t worry about, it’s his offensive line.
“I’ll tell you what,” Fell said, “the most impressive thing about them was last year. None of them had much experience but they transformed themselves into a pretty formidable group. They’re definitely the hardest working and the strongest kids on this team. We don’t do anything without them.”
That offensive line may hold the key to tonight’s outcome at Ely Stadium, where the Pioneers welcome Elyria Catholic for Round 3 of what has become a huge game. The series is tied 1-1.
Fell calls assistant coach Steve Hamilton “the best line coach in the business,” but Hamilton just shrugs off the accolades.
“The guys up front take pride in what we do,” he said. “They’re not there for the glory. They’re not the heroes. They play for Elyria High. They take pride in keeping (sophomore quarterback Hunter Parsh) clean.”
“(Coach Hamilton) gets us ready for every game,” senior captain Cody Schneider said. “He’s the one that teaches us to be like brothers.”
“Coach Hamilton’s like family,” senior Adolph Barr said. “We want to work hard for him.”
While Elyria High’s offensive and defensive playmakers steal most of the spotlight, it’s the guys up front that get it all going for the Pioneers.
Starting with Schneider, the center, along with senior guards Barr, Kyle Maassen, senior tackle Damon Stewart Jr. and junior tackle Darius Badford, the lone underclassman among the starters, the Pioneers have a seasoned offensive line. Sophomore Seth Billings is waiting in the wings and Hamilton is bringing a couple others along as well.
Hamilton calls the line “a strong chain.”
“It’s a brotherhood,” Hamilton said. “They’ve built the relationship and demand excellence of each other. All five have to work as a chain. Everybody has to communicate. Everybody has to be talking on every play.”
That starts with Schneider, a life guard during the summer months. In other words, protecting people is what he’s all about.
“We work well together,” said Schneider, who wants to continue playing next year at a Division III college. “We have really good communication on the line. We practice all the time to work together. Everyone knows their job.”
As for Parsh’s first start last week, Schneider had confidence.
“Granted, I think he was a little nervous at the start,” he said. “But after that he just stepped in there. It was natural. It felt just like last year.”
“Cody’s a smart kid,” Hamilton said. “He takes care of the calls on every play. He’s the leader.”
“He’s one of the better centers in the state of Ohio,” Fell said of Schneider. “The center in this offense has a lot of responsibility. He calls the blocking schemes. He’s done it for two years. He’s an expert at it now.
“Every one of them has unique talents but it’s what they do as a group that’s most impressive.
“Adolph is probably the strongest of the bunch. Darius Badford is a real talent. He can really smack you. Cody and Damon are self-made guys and so is Damon. They make a good package.”
“We work hard,” Badford said. “We’re really close. We’re like brothers. Coach Hamilton is an amazing coach. He teaches us discipline. He teaches us technique. He gets us in shape.”
“We work as a team,” Barr said. “We’ve been together a long time. We lift (weights) together. We do a lot together. We’re like the veterans on the team.
“We give 110 percent every night.”
Which means Fell can relax — at least when it comes to the offensive line.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• WHO: Elyria (1-0) vs. Elyria Catholic (1-0)
• TIME: 7:30 p.m.
• WHERE: Ely Stadium
• TV/RADIO: WEOL 930-AM