With the regular season coming to a close in just over two weeks and the chance of making the playoffs seeming less than slim, I found this week's essay to be a good opportunity to reflect on my personal transition from tight end to offensive tackle. Every big kid dreams of getting the ball in his hands during a game at some point in his career. Watching professional receivers, running backs, and occasional defensive backs scamper into the endzone (only to turn it into a dance lesson shortly after) is reminiscent of a lineman's dream. When I was 10, my last year of youth football before being ineligible to the weight limit, I pondered sweet thoughts of such scoring shimmies. However, I knew I would have to wait another four years for high school to come before I could ever pursue these dreams.
As a freshman I started at tight end and played well enough to be a candidate for the varsity position in the upcoming season. But as my sophomore season came, the coaches elected to start me at defensive tackle and give the tight end spot to a senior. Former BC High line coach and New Orleans Saints all pro offensive guard Steve Trapilo (R.I.P.) reminded me day in and day out that I would make my career in the trenches. I refused to listen as I started the following year at tight end and defensive tackle. This junior season used my 6'7" 235 lb pound frame merely as another offensive lineman. However, I managed to accumulate 15 catches for approximately 150 yards. I enjoyed being the person who carried the ball, which moved the stakes forward.
Starting the first two games at tight end for BC High this season, I gathered two balls for fourteen yards. All this would end following our second loss to Bridgewater-Raynham. Injuries plagued our two junior offensive tackles, and called for the assistance of two senior tackles (one of which was me). The information came unwanted to me, but knowing it would be best for the team and I would be playing this position in my college career at Stanford, I gladly accepted the challenge. The first few games were tough. The position was uncomfortable and unfamiliar, which only complicated matters more against our very dangerous schedule. But each game things looked better and better, until finally as a whole we became simply powerful.
Amidst our four-game win streak, the BC High offensive line dominated our opponents, running them over continuously play after play. As we battled back to 4-4, BC High running backs pranced for over 600 yards, scoring a total of 90 points (which was 70 more than we scored in our first four games). It was at this point that I learned what being an offensive lineman is all about. PRIDE! An offensive lineman carries the team on his back. He has the power to control the pace of the game, the play calling, and more so: the result of the game. It got to a point in the season where I demanded that the ball be run behind me all game. The coaches had faith in my word, and sure enough they brought the ball behind me and senior right guard Joe Hobin repeatedly.
At one point late in our 38-12 victory of Malden Catholic, their defensive tackle shouted out the play was coming right inside me. I responded that he was correct and I begged him to try and stop us. The look on his face was priceless as we stood celebrating another score a few seconds later. Offensive tackle is by far the most enjoyable position I have ever played. Only on the offensive line can you continuously take part in football's two most humiliating maneuvers: the pancake block and the cut block. There is nothing more rewarding than standing over your opponent, yelling in his face after you have just driven him through the ground. Then on the next play, cutting his legs out from underneath him, and watching him flip up in the air as your running back sprints by.
Offensive line play is an art. It requires constant hours of film work, practice, and work. But more than all this, in order to perfect being an offensive lineman, one must hold the ability to snap on the spot. One must be fearless and somewhat psychotic. After you knock them down, stand over them and tell them you're coming again next play. Go crazy until the final buzzer blows, and whether you've won or not, I guarantee your opponent goes home scared of you. This is way I like to play football. I will always be in control, and I won't stop until my opponent is underneath me smothered on the ground. Even in a crushing 35-6 loss against a superior Xaverian team this past Saturday, each and every play, I feel I won the fight. Pride is the most important thing in life, and never will I lose mine to any opponent.
OH WOW! I can't wait to pancake a few Trojans in the seasons to come…
Chris Marinelli is a 6'7" offensive tackle recruit in the 2005 class who verbally committed to Stanford in July. He is writing a weekly series this fall to deliver Cardinal fans insight into the triumphs and travails of his senior season at Boston College High School.
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