The Maiden Blue Devils don’t have a wealth of experience on their offensive line this season. Tony Martin is the only returning starter, and even he has to adjust to moving from guard and tackle to center.
The linemen this year make up for that lack of game experience with two things — energy and enthusiasm.
“A lot of the guys are ready to show what they can do, and I hope they can do something too,” Martin said. “I think it’s finally helping out that we practice a lot harder than we used to. When it’s time for joking, we do it. Some things can get a little crazy.”
Offensive line coach Butch Parker, who is in his 23rd season as a coach at Maiden, said this group of linemen somewhat reminds him of Matt Isenhour, who was an All-American at Maiden and played football at Appalachian State.
“The line is where it starts, and if we don’t have the energy, nobody else does,” Martin said. “You have your running backs and quarterback feeling down if you don’t have enough energy and aren’t doing the plays right.”
Martin, a senior, is slated right now to start at center and is adjusting to handling the ball on every down this season, but he doesn’t need help anchoring the line. The senior called out the blocking assignments last season, and he said he was the loudest of the linemen in 2009. It’s something he wants to continue in 2010.
“I want to go out solid this year since it is my last,” he said. “I don’t want to be 6-6 and all that.”
Maiden likes to line up in the spread offense and spends a lot of time in the shotgun formation. Parker said Martin needs the ability to get the ball back to the quarterback while starting down an opposing nose guard because the play is dead if he can’t.
Zach Haynes, another senior, will be at right tackle, and Luke Lackey will line up at left tackle. The two guards are Dillon Foster and Quinton “Stumpy” Hubbard. Parker said those five guys are slated to start right now, but he was quick to add those assignments are subject to change.
Haynes is only the second offensive lineman with game experience. A majority of his experience, however, is on the defensive side of the ball, and he was moved to offense this season.
“It’s a totally and completely different thing out there,” he said. “It’s challenging, but with our coaches, I’ll definitely be able to do it.”
Parker has faith in the rest of his linemen and said eight of his 15 linemen could start if the season started Wednesday. He called this year’s squad one of the best groups of linemen Parker has had in his career at Maiden.
“This bunch is smart, and they’ve worked all summer,” he said. “The thing is now we just have to make them better.”