MORGANTOWN — A few months ago, a writer and former football player named Eric Dockett wrote an article for howtheyplay.com detailing the five hardest positions to play in football.
Two of the five — center and left tackle — are along the offensive line.
Morgantown head coach Sean Biser, a former offensive lineman himself, fully agrees with that notion.
“It’s the most difficult position on the field outside of quarterback, in my opinion,” Biser said.
In Dockett’s article, he says, “Sometimes linemen are asked to make blocks on players just as big and strong as they are. Other times, they must rely on their quickness to block much smaller, faster players. They use a range of strategies such as fold, trap and reach blocks. Sometimes they pull and clear the way for a running back on a sweep play.”
Basically, a lineman needs to not only know what he’s doing, but he also needs to know what the 10 guys lined up next to him are doing, plus have an idea of what the 11 guys on the other side of the line are going to do, too.
Biser said the Mohigans offensive line group has been the most consistent unit on the field this season. The depth of MHS has had to come into play as the offense has battled injuries and some position changes.
The main rotation of offensive linemen includes Braylon Brown, Jaiden Evans, Nathan Hagan, Dyllan Haseleu, Dakoma Neal, Eli Stahara, and Sammy Teets.
“The offensive line is the ultimate team within the team,” Biser said. “Those guys work as a unit and they have to know what each other is doing and thinking. They have to know the calls. You don’t just have one way to do things, depending on how the defensive line looks and changes up every play. Those guys have been very consistent for us all year. They work hard all the time.”
Biser said the Mohigans (4-4) have had to adjust their running game this season as a lot of players have touched the ball, but they’re also down to their fourth-string running back. They even moved Jarrett Lawrence, listed as a running back, under center taking snaps as the quarterback. Lawrence only attempted three passes in last week’s 33-7 win against John Marshall.
The Mohigans ran 51 times against the Monarchs, asserting their dominance from the classic Wing-T formation, showcasing their strong offensive line.
The Morgantown line checks in at an average of 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds.
“They are skilled athletes and I don’t think they get enough recognition,” Biser said. “They are the guys who selflessly put themselves on the line and sacrifice for the good of the team.”
The fellowship the linemen feel with each other is also something to be celebrated. While there is friendly competition to earn a starting spot, there’s also been months of forming friendships to ensure they’re on the same page.
An open line of communication on-and-off the field pays dividends in the trenches.
“We’re a band of brothers,” said Stahara, a junior. “Each one of us is willing to step up to help our team win.”
Roughly 2/3 of the Mohigans’ players are underclassmen and that’s the case along the offensive line, too.
“Getting to play this season and proving I can earn my spot has been great,” said Brown, a sophomore. “We’ve been developing well together this season and it has paid off.”
Biser has taken pride in this offensive line because he sees them playing with the same passion he played with as a prep standout at Keyser. Biser, a state champion in wrestling, started his collegiate career on the mat at West Liberty before transferring to WVU in the early 1990s to play football. Originally a walk-on, he eventually earned a scholarship and more playing time for the Mountaineers.
His first coaching job was with Potomac State, as the offensive line coach. He still had a passion for playing the game and had a few professional tryouts before latching on with a semi-pro team out of Charleston.
“No one knows who an offensive lineman is until something bad happens,” Biser said. “In high school, you won’t hear their names called on the PA system but you might hear something about them yelled from the stands — block somebody!”
Morgantown fans can watch games in peace this season knowing they have the best blocks of granite blocking anything in their way.
By MATTHEW PEASLEE