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Chestatee's linemen leading the way

POSTED: September 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Chestatee offensive linemen front row, from left: Clint Stanley, Michael Parr, David Jones and Julio Arteta. Back row, from left: Lynx Martin, Ben Brown and Derek Cantrell. The War Eagles will take on Flowery Branch at Falcon Field tonight.

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Their position on the football field provides no glory and no glamour.

Each day in practice they work on techniques that benefit their team, but never shows up on the scoreboard.
They don’t score touchdowns and they don’t kick field goals, but what they do is equally as important. They allow those things to happen.

They’re offensive linemen, and at Chestatee High, they’re an experienced group of seven seniors that have played alongside each other for four years, and are the cornerstone of the War Eagles run-orientated offense.

“All we are is them,” said Chestatee running back Ben Souther, who rushed for 271 yards and four touchdowns behind that offensive line last week against Johnson.

“Everything we do goes with the offensive line,” added his brother Ethan, the War Eagles quarterback. “We’re nothing without them.”

Especially in the running game where Chestatee has had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushers, and with Ben Souther amassing 359 yards in two games, this group of linemen are well on their way to leading the way for a third consecutive 1,000-yard back.

That’s quite a feat, seeing the average height and weight of the seven members of the offensive line is 5-9, 231 pounds.

“Most of them are undersized,” said Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell, who’s largest offensive lineman Julio Arteta is 6-foot-3 and weighs 260 pounds. “But they are hard-working, blue-collar type kids. They’ve taken a lot of pride over the years playing guys that most people say are bigger and better than they are.”

The War Eagles line will have to face two of those players tonight when they travel to Flowery Branch to take on the Izaan Cross and Daniel Drummond led Falcons’ defense. Despite the fact that they will be matched up against two — if not more— Division I recruits, does not faze the Chestatee linemen.

“We don’t care who is on the opposite side of the ball,” said center Michael Parr. “We’ve just gotta open up on them.”

That confidence was not always there.

“A couple of years ago we had a meeting in the summer, and I told them how important they were, and what they had to do for us to be successful in the future,” said Luttrell, who credits offensive line coach Matt Stowers for the unit’s success. “Ever since that time, they’ve bonded together and wanted to be the best, or included in one of the best offensive lines in the region.”

According to the members of the line, it’s the strong bond of friendship and camaraderie that allows the unit to be successful.

“It’s like a brotherhood,” said right guard Chris Stanley (5-8, 260). “We do pretty much everything together.”

That’s what families do.

“We’re one big, fat family,” said tight end Derek Cantrell (6-3, 250). “We know what to do and we know what’s expected of us.”

What’s expected of them is to open holes for the running game and provide protection to the quarterback, who according to one player can ill afford to lose.

“Without our quarterback this team can’t go,” said left tackle Arteta. “It’s important for the whole team that I protect his back side.”

Arteta and the rest of the linemen got a first-hand perspective on what happens when the line isn’t successful. Riding high expectations entering Week 1 against Gainesville, the War Eagles offense was completely shut down to the tune of a 35-0 Red Elephants win.

A loss of that magnitude woke up the line.

“That loss helped us out a lot,” said Lynx Martin, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound right tackle. “It made us realize that it doesn’t matter how long we’ve been together, we still have to work.”

In the ensuing practices, Luttrell saw a change in his linemen.

“I think it let them know that they’re not there yet and they haven’t arrived,” Luttrell said. “They have plenty to work for and no one is going to show up and say, ‘Oh, we’re playing Chestatee,’ and be nervous.

“We have to reset the line of scrimmage on every play,” he added. “And that responsibility falls solely on the offensive line.”

That responsibility will be put to the test tonight against Flowery Branch, and the members of the War Eagles offensive line are ready.

“We just have to take it to them and don’t let them take it to us,” said Ben Brown (6-0, 210). “We’ve worked hard all week preparing for this.”

Added David Jones, who at 5-foot-8, 215 pounds is the smallest of the linemen: “We just have to come out ready to go, and just bring it.”

“They have a big challenge (tonight),” Luttrell said. “I’m excited to see how they rise to that challenge.”



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