Games are won in the trenches. It’s one of the oldest cliché’s associated with the game of football and also one of the truest.
Westmoore coach Billy Langford is one of those who believes in building teams around his men on the offensive and defensive line.
“It’s important to have an offensive line that can get the job done,” Langford said. “There’s a reason why Jenks, Lawton, those people are so good year in and year out. They turn out some pretty good offensive lineman every year. Games are won and lost with those guys.”
Coming into this year, Westmoore believed it had the type of front line to rival the best in the state. But as his team advances to the quarterfinals of the 6A state playoffs, Langford is having to treat his offensive line like MASH unit.
In 12 games this season, the Jags have used at least four different starting lineups just within its offensive line.
“That’ been a battle and a struggle with those guys as far as consistency and continuity,” Langford said. “We felt like we were just getting some continuity with the guys we have. I think that was the third or fourth game to start together in the same spots.”
Westmoore (10-2) should have the same lineup it used to bruise up Lawton High in the quarterfinals last week. But going into the game, Right tackle Rhett Hall injured his foot last week against Sand Springs and the coaches didn’t know if he would be able to go.
The Jags have already lost two starters for the season.
“Injuries have been a major factor,” Westmoore’s Noah Hammons said. “We’ve had to change up lines four or five times now. We haven’t really settled it. We were hoping to get settled in last week.”
Hammond is joined in the starting lineup by Hall, Ty Watkins, Cory Rosser, and John DelMoval.
If Hall is unable to go, Watkins will move over right tackle and a reserve will plug into the left guard spot.
“We are fortunate to have Ty,” Langford said. “He can play tackle and guard and smart enough to pick it all up. It’s not a big issue. That’s been good to have a senior guy that can move and do some different things. Makes it easier on those young guys to not have to learn two different positions.”
But the constant moving players around and inserting new starters can have an effect on the continuity offensive linemen crave.
“Continuity is very important,” Watkins said. “The communication part of it. We have to be able to trust each other. It’s nice knowing that I can trust the guy next to me.”
Despite the injury bug that has bitten the Jags, the linemen know how important they will be against the Trojans, who decimated them in their earlier matchup.
The only teams who may have had defensive front as formidable as Lawton are Jenks and Broken Arrow. Westmoore was unable to control either defensive unit and lost both games.
“We had a good offensive line last year that those guys played together for two or three years,” Langford said. “Never missed a game. This year, we’ve realize how special it was to have a line like we had last year. Also, how fortunate we were in the past to keep al all those guys healthy. We feel like we are paying for it this year.
Yet, the Jags are confident they can handle their business the rest of the postseason.