Games are won in the trenches. It’s one of the oldest clichés 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 teams are so good year in and year out. They turn out some pretty good offensive linemen 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 a MASH unit.
In 11 games this season, the Jags have used at least four different starting lineups just within their 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 (9-2) may have to change its starting line again when it takes on Lawton (11-0) Friday at Cameron Stadium in Lawton.
Right tackle Rhett Hall injured his foot last week against Sand Springs and the coaches don’t know yet if he will 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 to 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 is 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 constantly shifting 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 a very athletic Wolverine defense led by 6-foot-1, 295 pound tackle Ivan Thomas. He has 77 tackles and seven sacks on the season.
The only teams who may have a defensive front as formidable as Lawton are Jenks and Broken Arrow. Westmoore was unable to control either defensive unit and lost both games.
Yet, the Jags are confident they can handle business against the Wolverines.
“I feel like we can wear them down,” Watkins said. “Be physical and impose our will on them. We’ve talked about it this week. We want the coach to be able to come to us and say we are putting it on y’alls back. Go get us the ‘W’ this week.”