SCOTT — When playing for a program like Acadiana, known for running the football, the offensive line may get a little more credit than a run-of-the-mill offensive line.
The Wreckin’ Rams’ vaunted rushing attack relies on dependable run blockers, and this year’s edition of their veer offense has no more dependable lineman to hitch the attack to than senior Caden Cunningham.
“No one knows us until we mess up,” said Cunningham, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound senior. “The offensive line will always be an under-appreciated position, but here we have to run the ball a lot. We get a little bit more spotlight over here.”
The early season woes for the Rams — they lost an uncharacteristic three of four games — can largely be attested to its instability in the offensive line during that stetch. Not only Cunningham, but two other starters from the line missed time.
Acadiana coach Ted Davidson said having the line healthy — Cunningham in particular — gives them the stability they desire.
“He brings a lot of intensity to the line,” Davidson said. “He is a 4.0 kid, and when he’s healthy and in there, he gives us that feeling of security.”
Cunningham said the losses were upsetting to the team and demoralizing to the locker room, but the Rams’ current three-game winning streak is restoring a winning attitude.
“We lost a couple games that set us back morality-wise,” Cunningham said. “A lot of us thought we were done, and it has been a rough season, but I think we are going to come around.”
Davidson said Cunningham is an undeniable leader on the team, though not the most vocal leader out there.
“He is not going to get in your face,” Davidson said, “but just the way he carries himself and what he does, he leads that way. He is a real good, solid run-blocker, and we like to run behind him.”
Cunningham said nothing gives him more satisfaction than when one of the Rams’ running backs break a big run and scores a touchdown. When the running backs are in the middle of a big run, Cunningham said to look for him — No. 99 — because he’ll running right along with them.
“When we score, we’ll run down the field and cheer, handshaking and stuff like that,” he said. “When we break an 80-yard run, we know that wasn’t the running back. That was mostly us.”
Despite the rocky start to the season, Cunningham said all of the Rams’ goals are ahead of them — including defending its 5A state championship. The goals for Acadiana are lofty every season, but Cunningham said he doesn’t shy away from ambitious expectations.
“You are always expected to be a champion if you play here,” Cunningham said. “We have a legacy of winning here. If you don’t feel that way, you shouldn’t be out here.
“There is no reason to believe we can’t win. As long as we play it game to game, we have a chance to still go.”