Valley’s stars at the line of scrimmage

Published 11:12 am Friday, October 6, 2023

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When you think about football, you probably imagine touchdowns and lightning-quick athletes racing down the field. However, there is something more important going on during each snap. The big boys up front are making room for all the touchdowns and lightning-quick athletes. 

Most dominant high school football teams have dominant offensive and defensive lines. The Valley Rams are no different.
Valley is on a four-game winning streak and a lot of credit goes to eight guys. Antwan Greenwood, Gabe Gilbert, Keunta Lynch, Tyreon Lynch, Jaylan Roberts, Robert White, Xavier Smith and Jax Miller lead the Rams up front. 

The offensive line has led Valley to average nearly 213 rushing yards per game over the last four games. The defensive line had led a defense that has hounded quarterbacks, averaging nearly four sacks per game. 

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“With penetration to the opposing team on the line,” Smith said on how the defensive line attacks quarterbacks. 

The dominance at the line of scrimmage is not something that was manifested overnight. Everything that Valley has built up front has come from long days and nights in the offseason. 

“It all starts in the weight room,” White said. “It’s a mission in there, we take it very seriously.” 

On both sides of the line, the Rams look to impose their will on the other team. There’s just one strategy or motto that each player looks for every Friday night. 

“Punish them,” the group said about their mentality before each game. 

Coming into the season, many scouts and media personalities took notice of Valley’s athletes on the outside and for good reason. The Rams have been dynamic in the secondary and at several other skill positions. 

The offensive and defensive line for Valley is willing to get down and do the dirty work. They do not get all the recognition, nor do they need it. Those eight men just go put on a show between the lines every Friday. 

“We do our jobs and play our gaps,” Greenwood said. “We just come together, do what we’ve got to do and play ball.” 

All of Valley’s talent culminated in the rivalry game against Lanett earlier this season. The Rams allowed just 14 points on defense in the matchup and came away with a 41-14 win. 

That game means everything to the community, but it possibly meant even more to the big guys up front as they saw the opportunity to be the first group to win four in a row over the Panthers. 

“We wanted to beat them bad,” Miller said. “We should’ve beat them worse last year. We wanted to prove that we were way better than they were.” 

The group is made up of several upperclassmen with one freshman sprinkled in. The seniors and juniors have stepped up to make sure the underclassmen can hold their own on the field. 

“Do the drill right so that they can follow you,” Greenwood said. “When they get the tackle, we get excited with them,” White added. “We try to get them hyped. We don’t try to down them, we try to keep them up.” 

Miller is the lone freshman who is starting on the offensive line, and that encouragement from the older guys has led him to become an integral part of the team. 

“At first, it was really difficult,” Miller said. “This is my first year ever playing center. All these guys have really just picked me up and kept me motivated. That kind of right there built the chemistry.”

The game on Friday against Clay Central may be one of the toughest tests of the season for Valley’s offensive and defensive line, but they should be up for the challenge. 

“When they’re watching film on us, I want them to not just focus on the secondary,” Gilbert said. “They’ve got to worry about the line too.” 

It does not matter how the next game or the rest of the season turns out, this group of linemen is special. The eight do not want to be remembered for their talent or any accomplishments, they just want teams to remember that each snap was a battle when they faced the Rams at the line of scrimmage.