If Jesuit has a chance to derail Curtis’ march to its fourth consecutive state football title, Jesuit coach Mark Songy knows his “big dogs” will have to bring their bite.
Jesuit’s 11-2 season and appearance in the Division I select school state championship game Friday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the result of a successful balance on offense and defense.
But, one group occupies a particularly warm spot in the heart of Songy, an ex-offensive lineman and line coach.
He said he “loves this (offensive) line”. Yet he knows they are destined to “get hit in the mouth every play”.
“It’s not the most pleasant job,” Songy said Tuesday as his team practiced. “They never touch the football. Every single snap they can expect to get hit in the mouth, every game. They get no plays off.”
Jesuit’s offensive line plays at a high level, melding pass and run techniques into a vintage, balanced attack that showcases quarterback Trey LaForge.
“It all started with the offensive line,” LaForge said after the Blue Jays’ surprising 28-14 domination of Rummel in the semifinals. “They played so well.”
That is a familiar refrain by LaForge. The protection of LaForge and the running lanes for backs Chris Mills and Charles Jackson are entrusted to seniors Jeff White, Brad Gaudet, Emerson Wenzel and Foster Moreau, and sophomores Corey Dublin and John Sewell.
Jesuit’s line play was even highlighted by Curtis coach J.T. Curtis on Monday.
“(Jesuit) played with great intensity at the line of scrimmage and that offset the size differential (against Rummel),” Curtis said.
The game against Curtis (10-2) is Jesuit’s first championship appearance since 1978. Curtis has won 26 titles, four consecutive.
Songy downplays his role in shaping a team he took over two weeks before school began. He likes to say, “I get to walk around and watch (practice) and I get a front row seat on game night.”
Songy credits assistant Graham Jarrott with the development of a line “that is assignment bound . . . it is not easy to play offensive line and it is certainly not easy to play offensive line here.”
Jesuit runs a no-huddle offense that requires constant recognition, analysis and communication up front.
“Communication is very important for us,” Jarrott said. “We call everything at the line. They get their communication from the sideline. They all have to make calls (depending on what they see from the defense).”
Jesuit’s attack depends on quick adjustments, rhythm, and timing.
“Drills and repetition,” Jarrott said. “It’s a lot of work . . . a million reps. They’ve each got their codes to communicate . . . what direction they’re going in and who is working with who.
“It’s not easy work,” said Jarrott. He said this group “has a tremendous work ethic” and “has given a very consistent effort all season. Every day they give me everything they have.”
Songy, a former lineman at Brother Martin under Bob Conlin, added, “It’s tough work. Nasty stuff. Coach Conlin always stressed that success began up front.”
He said his offensive linemen are usually quiet, gentlemen off the field. But they “have a mean streak churning within.”
“Let’s put it this way, if they don’t bite when they’re a pup, they’re probably not going to bite when they are big dogs.”
If Jesuit is to defeat top-seeded Curtis, his dogs will have to bring their bite.