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Linemen leading way for Eagles’ soaring offense

Published: 11/13/13 @ 12:07


By TIM CLEVELAND

sports@vindy.com

HUBBARD

While running backs L.J. Scott, Darnell Tate and George Hill, and quarterback Brennan Wassil get most of the publicity for Hubbard’s lethal offensive attack, they wouldn’t have nearly the gaudy numbers they possess if it weren’t for the Eagles’ veteran offensive line.

The quintuplets — senior left tackle Jack Frost (6-foot-3, 235 pounds), junior left guard Drew Bencetic (6-1, 220), senior center Jared O’Hara (6-3, 290), junior right guard Matt Jones (6-4, 290) and junior right tackle Zach Hover (5-11, 250) — average 6-2 and 257 pounds and have helped pave the way for Hubbard (11-0) accumulate 3,482 rushing and 975 passing yards.

“I think they’ve grown and matured as the season has progressed,” Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman said. “We have some solid running backs, but we preach it all starts up front.

“Those guys have done a great job. They’re a cohesive unit, communicating, studying and working together as a unit.”

Hoffman gave his assessment of each lineman’s style of blocking and qualities.

“Jack’s got the good motor,” Hoffman said. “He’s athletic and long and versatile. He’s a guy that gets the group fired up the most.

“Drew’s the technician. He relies a lot on technique and body position and studying game film.

“Jared’s the power guy. He’s our senior leader. He communicates to everybody on the line and setting up our pass protection.

“Jonesy leads the team in pancake blocks. He’s one of our powerful guys but he also has athleticism. He’s received looks from colleges.

“Zach is a tough guy. He plays hard-nosed. He’s the guy that’s going to give you extra effort. I sometimes have to dial him back a bit.”

O’Hara said he takes pride in being the leader of the offensive line.

“It’s definitely a tough role,” he said. “We have three good running backs. We open up holes for them and I make sure we’re all on the same page. I trust the guy to the left and to the right of me to know their job. I help ensure they know what they’re doing.

“There’s also quarterback Brennan Wassil. We want to make sure he doesn’t get touched.”

Hubbard began its quest for a championship last Friday with a dominant 42-14 victory over Marlington. This Friday at 7:30 p.m., the Eagles battle Aurora (10-1) in a Division III Region 11 semifinal at Austintown Fitch Falcon Stadium.

Last Friday, Aurora defeated Louisville. 24-21.

The last time Hubbard shared the field with the Greenmen was a regional semifinal in 2008, with Aurora earning a 14-7 victory.

“They had a great team then and went on to win the state title,” Hoffman said. “I don’t know about any revenge factor. We’ve been down this road before and understand the value of playing our best game.”

Hoffman said after making the playoff six times in his seven seasons as coach, he and the Eagles are determined to advance beyond the regional semifinals for the first time.

“It means everything,” he said. “It’s why the players and coaches have put in the time in the season and in the offseason. It would be a great breakthrough to make it that far. Hubbard has only done it one other time. To be in that category would be something to be proud of.”

O’Hara, in his last chance at a state championship, said the hard work that’s been put in will hopefully pay off.

“We had the opportunity last year and came up short,” he said. “I believe this is our chance; this is our shot we’ve been waiting for. We’ve been working all summer. Our goal is the state championship. I know every guy in that locker room wants it.”