LAFAYETTE — To form the offensive line for the second-ranked football team in Class 4A, a dream had to be dashed and an occasional distress signal must be answered.
The five Teurlings Catholic High players who make up the Rebels offensive line include four seniors and a sophomore. Some of them were set from early on to be offensive linemen. Brothers Jacob and Justin Mathews are tackles who are 6-foot-4, 270 pounds and 6-2, 290. Guard Ashton Whaley and center Cole Quebedeaux are two more parts of the team within a team.
Senior guard Zeb Burley started with a different view.
“His (Burley’s) wish or his dream was to be a great defensive lineman,” Teurlings offensive line coach Robbie Richard said. “He made the switch, and it has worked out great. He is explosive off the ball in the run game. It was a great carry over from defense.”
For Burley, that meant learning line calls and seeing how one play can change in many different ways depending on what an opposing defense is doing before the snap.
“At first it was a lot and it was a little overwhelming, but after repetition, it kind of became instinct,” Burley said.
Richard said the group has done a good job on focusing on those details.
“This group is bigger than the ones we normally have, and they are attentive and smart,” Richard said.
That development of an offensive line includes communication and film sessions where plays and individual players are studied.
“Even just watching yourself on film, it helps you correct things from the previous week,” Whaley said.
Watching film a few times a week just provides a blueprint that has to be adjusted during the first quarter.
“You don’t really get a feel (for an opponent) until after that first drive,” Whaley said.
Sometimes, getting a read on an opponent can take even longer. When Teurlings took on Calvary Baptist in the season opener, the Rebels had seen the Cavaliers employ a lot of base four-man defensive fronts on film with not much blitzing.
However, the presence of a few high profile commitments in the Cavaliers’ defensive backfield enabled Calvary to experiment and try some different things up front in terms of bringing six defenders to put pressure on Rebels quarterback Cole Kelley, an Arkansas commitment.
When the Rebels faced 5-on-6 situations during Calvary blitzes in the eventual 45-28 Teurlings win, that increased the distress situations for the offensive line.
When the name of Teurlings fullback Noah Harris comes up, the linemen collectively change to a more serious tone. Harris had 142 yards and three touchdowns against Calvary. Phrases such as “north and south runner” and “he does not go down on first contact” came like scouting reports from Jacob Mathews and Burley.
Blitz pickups are another item on their list.
“He helps us pick up blitzes that we miss or can’t pick up (because of the number of defenders),” Mathews said.
Just as they agree about Harris’ importance, the linemen mentioned a difficult loss as being a starting point with some big benefits. The Rebels started last season with a 36-35 loss to University Lab.
“That let us know how good we could be,” Whaley said. “I think we even surprised ourselves. We didn’t want that same feeling (of a loss) this year.”