Behind the blocking of five new starters on the offensive line this season, Parkview Baptist’s triple option offense scored 30 or more points eight times and rushed for 4,256 yards with 4,905 total yards.
“How well the offensive line has played has been one of the biggest surprises of the season for us,” Parkview coach Jay Mayet said. “A lot of people don’t understand how mentally tough it is to play on the line.
“They’ve got to know who to block and not block in certain situations. That takes time to learn, but these guys have put it together. They’re a close-knit group. ”
No. 7 Parkview Baptist (9-3) battles top-seeded University (12-0) for the Division II select state football title at 5 p.m. Friday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
District 7-3A champion University defeated the Eagles 28-7 in the first meeting.
Parkview starts four juniors and sophomore center Tyler Boone (6-foot, 230 pounds) on the line. Left guard Grant Kerstens (6-3, 270), left tackle Vincent Blackwell (6-4, 230), right guard Justin Kairdolf (6-3, 250) and right tackle Trenton Harrington (5-8, 240) complete the lineup.
In the spring, Harrington was the center and Boone the tackle. Offensive line coach Matt Shelton and Mayet experimented with the players to come up with the current positions.
“The guys have done a great job of picking up our offense,” Shelton said. “That’s unusual for a first-year group. I’m most pleased that they’ve learned how to play fast and physical.”
Blackwell had never played offensive line before this season. He was athletic enough for quarterback, tight end, linebacker and defensive line going back to middle school.
“Vincent Blackwell has a physical body at 6-4 and the frame you look for,” Mayet said. “He’s got great feet, good reach and great hips.”
Blackwell said he likes playing offensive line over defensive line because he knows the plays that are called.
“I know what is going on, and when it’s going on,” Blackwell said. “That gives me an advantage. We’re one of the smartest offensive lines in the state. It has always been a dream to play in the Superdome. We know we’ll have to perform and play as physical as we can.”
Harrington is the shortest of the linemen at 5-8.
“I use my height as an advantage in leverage,” Harrington said. “Once we’re in our stance, we’re all the same height. I love the game. Our line has really grown and improved. Our season rushing total makes us feel good.”
“Trenton Harrington is like a bowling ball,” Shelton said. “He’s the most explosive guy we’ve got.”
Mayet said Boone is a physical player with a mean streak.
“He really gets after you and is a block-to-the-whistle guy,” Mayet said. “We teach our guys to play hard until the whistle blows. We don’t apologize for it.”
Guards Kerstens and Kairdolf also drew praise.
“Our guards are steady players,” Shelton said. “Grant Kerstens is a physical kid and a smart player. He could play any position on the line. Justin Kairdolf has good feet and good size.”
Mayet said the offensive line did a pretty good job of blocking in the first meeting with U-High.
“University is so athletic, skilled and fast on defense,” Mayet said. “We lost some blocks on the perimeter. We’ll face the same challenges. We’ve got to scheme to get a hat on them.”
Parkview has never shied away from playing good competition in the regular season to get ready for playoff runs like this.
“University has one of the better defensive fronts I’ve seen in the last five years,” Shelton said. “Our guys are not just excited about playing in the Superdome, they’re excited about playing good competition. They’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Win or lose, the good news for Parkview in 2015 is the entire line should be back as well as junior quarterback Reggie Hayes.