Inside Football with Chris Felton (Wk 10)

Look for Chris Felton’s weekly columns over the course of the football season. Felton, who is providing color on WNPV 1440 AM’s high school football broadcasts, boasts 10 years of coaching experience at the high school level and two years at the collegiate level. Felton spent eight years coaching at Central Bucks West and one year each at Pennridge and Central Bucks East. He also had coaching stints at Delaware Valley College and Gettysburg College. In his weekly column, Felton will not only be sharing his insights into the game itself but also attempting to familiarize fans with the game.

Last Friday night I watched Souderton convincingly beat Central Bucks East 35-14.  Souderton quarterback Tanner Allem connected on some nice passes to Ry Yozallinas, and the Souderton backfield led by speedster Jaovon White ran exceptionally well against an improved CB East defense.  I was particularly impressed with Souderton’s offensive line.

Overall, this is a young group that has improved throughout the season.  Sophomore tackle Rick Young continues to dominate opponents and promises to be a star for the next two seasons.  Senior guard Mike Dimmig is one of the most athletic guards in the conference.  Tackle Connor Newlin, guard Colby Johnson, and center Ben Licona are all juniors that have made themselves into good offensive lineman by working hard each week.  At this point, Souderton’s playoff hopes are no longer in their hands, they need a ton of help to continue their 2011 season after this Friday night. Looking forward to next year, Souderton may return the best group of offensive lineman in the conference, and this should make them very excited.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my views on the importance of playing great defense and specifically playing great defense in the playoffs.

Successful playoff teams share two traits, first they play great defense and second they have great offensive lines.

This week I would like to focus on the second part of the equation.

It’s funny how it works, just like with good defenses, playoff teams always seem to have great offensive lines.  Look at the regional playoff teams this year: North Penn, Council Rock South, Abington, Pennsbury, and Plymouth Whitemarsh. Don’t they all have good offensive lines?

Look at the past state champions from the area: CB West, North Penn, Neshaminy, and LaSalle.  Each team had dominating offensive lines.  Look at the best team in the area this year - Archbishop Wood has a huge dominating offensive line.

The thing that is special about the offensive line is that no other position group depends more on each other.  Great offensive lines are truly the sum of their individual parts.

Offensive linemen are a unique breed.  Although they are not considered “skill players,” there is no position on the field that has to work as hard to develop or to acquire the specific techniques used by effective offensive lineman.  Developing and acquiring a technique is the very definition of becoming skilled; therefore, by definition, once an offensive lineman acquires and perfects these new techniques, there is nobody on the field that can be considered more skilled.

Coaches always preach to their players not to worry about headlines or stats and to only worry about the team.  Coaches don’t have to worry about offensive lineman.  Have you ever read a headline that mentions the offensive line?  Have you have seen a stat in the newspaper that mentions the number of pancakes a player had?  The answer is no, and it doesn’t matter - great offensive lineman worry about other things.

Every great offensive line needs to have a great offensive line coach.  A great offensive line coach needs to have a special balance between being a perfectionist and task master with truly loving and respecting this special type of football player.  He must understand who he is coaching. 

I have had the tremendous opportunity to learn offensive line play from two of the top offensive line coaches on the country.

Mike Carey continues to assert himself as the top high school offensive line coach in the state.

I have also had the opportunity to work with George DeLeone when he was at Temple.  Coach DeLeone has been a successful offensive line coach for over 40 years at the collegiate and NFL levels.

So if I was ever asked by an offensive line coach what I wanted in a offensive lineman, this is how I would answer.

Build me an offensive lineman

Build me an offensive lineman that always fires out of a perfect stance.

Build me an offensive lineman that beats his opponents out of his stance, who knows that playing low and fast is the key to being great

Build me an offensive lineman that will be a great drive blocker, who loves working in the bell ringer because he knows that he and his line mates must be great drive blockers if his team is expecting to have any kind of success.  He knows how to take off, punch, move his feet, and finish his block.

Build me an offensive lineman that knows he must be able to get to the linebackers, who understands that he must beat them out of their stances, not get held up by the defensive line, and that he must beat them to the point of real estate by taking great angles.

Build me an offensive lineman that kicks some major backside.  Who will never let a defensive lineman create a hump at the line of scrimmage and will always drive his opponents to the second level.

Build me an offensive lineman that is a great pass blocker, that understands the blocking scheme and where the quarterback will be setting up, who will get full extension with his arms, will always keep his shoulders back, will always maintain a powerful stance and will always keep his feet moving.

Build me an offensive lineman who is smart, who understands the scheme, recognizes defensive fronts and is always communicating with his teammates and talking to himself.

Build me an offensive lineman that is quick, fast, and athletic who can trap and pull as if he were a fullback.

Build me an offensive lineman that takes great angles, has perfect aiming points, and doesn't waste any steps.

Build be an offensive lineman that has an incredible motor, that never stops until the whistle blows, that adheres to his block and is a tenacious downfield blocker.

Build me an offensive lineman that doesn't need to have his name in the paper or his name announced, all he needs to know is that his opponent has played the entire game on his back and his team has won.

Build me an offensive lineman that respects but does not like his opponent, that will stop at nothing to gain an edge, that is a film junky, a weightroom freak, and loves practice.

Build me an offensive lineman that has an unquenchable desire to win, to improve, and be the best offensive lineman that has ever gone through his program.

That is what I want in an offensive lineman.

Until next week

Good week and good football