The Times West Virginian

Sports

October 15, 2013

FSHS offensive linemen are unsung heroes

FAIRMONT — The Hogs were a group of offensive lineman in the 1980s and ’90s who played for the Washington Redskins.

They would go on to win multiple championships together.

Much like them, Fairmont Senior’s group of maulers up front have one common goal: a championship.

Andrew Summers, Vince Delligatti, Lance Puccio, Logan Kish and Daquan Hilson are the Hogs of Fairmont Senior, a team which boasts one of the top rushing and passing attacks in the Big 10 Conference.

To get to the top of this pinnacle it takes hard work, dedication and a good connection.

The five offensive linemen, who have been playing together since sixth grade, came into high school together, and they’ll leave together.

But they don’t want it to be without some hardware.

“We’ve got one goal, and that’s to win a state title,” Delligatti said. “We’ve been working hard since our freshman year to win it.”

In order to get to that plateau, though, the offense must click and build a solid connection. That’s something the offensive line prides itself on.

“We all click and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Summers said. “It’s real easy to get it done.”

To be on the offensive line is often referred to as “being in the trenches.”

Trench warfare is often known to be hand-to-hand combat. That’s exactly what being an offensive lineman entails. You have to put your hand in the dirt and stop big, mean pass rushers from getting your comrades.

But how do you do that? You have to have a plan.

“We want to be the meanest people out on the field,” Puccio said.

At an average height of nearly 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds, Fairmont Senior’s offensive line has the ability to get out in space to spring their running backs but to also entrench themselves up front and keep their quarterback safe.

As an offensive lineman, though, it never hurts to have a running back like Noah Harmon.

Harmon, who has been near the top in rushing in the Big 10 all season, likes to give his line most of the credit for his success.

“It’s not often that you get big linemen like we have,” Harmon said. “It makes it a lot easier for me to get the yards that I need.”

Harmon is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing this season, and the Polar Bears overall have nearly 1,200 yards through six games, and he believes his line is a big reason why.

But, much like Harmon, his line believes they are just a small piece of the motor.

“We’re just playing a part,” Kish, a 6-foot-3, 285 pound lineman, said of the offense.

The rest of the guys up front share Kish’s sentiment.

“We have a lot of good backs running behind us,” Delligatti said. “We’ve been blocking for (Harmon) since the sixth grade. If he needs a hole, he knows we’ll make one.”

Summers, too, feels that having a back like Harmon helps them out up front.

“It’s good to have him because it’s hard to be perfect,” he said. “If we mess up, he’s good at correcting us and making his reads.”

Harmon feels that the Polar Bears are a run-oriented team, but he believes the talented line gives them other weapons, as well. The team’s quarterback, Austin Norman, is already over 1,000 yards passing on the season.

Norman attributes his success to his line. He ranked his offensive line as “the best line in the state” earlier this season.

Summers said that the team works on both aspects of blocking intensely throughout the week.

“We work on a lot of hand fighting and getting control of the other team on their pads so we can give him time,” said the 6-foot-4, 280 pound lineman.

Even with all of the personal accolades that this talented football team can achieve, they still stay team[oriented.

“We don’t really care about individual stats here,” Hilson said. “There’s just one: the win.”

Though the Polar Bears are coming off two losses, they’re far from giving up on their freshman year pact.

“There’s 15 seniors, and we all pretty much start both ways, so it’d be rough if we didn’t win that state title,” Delligatti said.

It’s never an easy road to the state championship, but it’s something these five seniors have been waiting for.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow o Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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