Eagles’ unsung heroes
HUBBARD – During football season, Friday is the easy choice for Zach Hover’s favorite day of the week, but Saturday is definitely the best day of practice.
As an offensive lineman at Hubbard, he – along with his fellow running mate on the other side of the line, Drew Bencetic – has become accustomed to reading and hearing about star running backs L.J. Scott, who’s headed to Michigan State, and George Hill, who’s verbally committed Ohio State.
“I barely see my name in the paper,” he joked. “Especially when you have L.J. and George, their names are everywhere, which I understand completely. It’s just nice knowing I helped them out getting all their yards and stuff like that.”
Such is the life of an offensive lineman. Well, until Saturday comes around. That’s the day the Eagles watch film from the previous game, and everyone can see how Hover, Bencetic and the rest of Hubbard’s offensive line dominated the opposing team’s defense to pave the way for the star-studded backfield.
Sometimes, though, waiting until Saturday isn’t good enough.
“I need to go home and watch the game on the computer right after because I have no clue what the game even looked like,” Hover said. “All I know is the guy’s face across from me. That’s pretty much all I see.”
Saturday is still pretty cool.
“I’ve always loved that part, from eighth grade on,” said Hover of watching film as a team. “Seeing yourself do good and coach saying something about it, it’s a great feeling.”
Even more important, Bencetic said, is that the tape shows how football takes all 11 players on both sides of the ball to succeed, no matter how many great skilled position players are flying around.
“You have work as a team or nothing comes out right,” Bencetic said.
That statement is especially true when it comes to the offensive line, where working in unison is critical to success. One area where Bencetic excels in that phase of the game is helping one blocker and then moving on to the next player, usually a linebacker. He and another lineman double team a defensive lineman before Bencetic, a guard, leaves the double team to block a different player. The timing of choosing when to leave is vital.
“It’s very important because if you come off the block too early, you might not get the block all the way, and (the defensive lineman) might be able to make the play,” Bencetic said. “If you come off too late, the second guy might make the play. You’ve got to listen and work through it.”
Communicating is made easier when a team possesses a veteran group like Hubbard. Three starters return for the Eagles, including Bencetic, Hover and West Virginia-recruit Matt Jones. Joining them are Frank Cimmento and Adam DeMarco, who both played significant minutes last year.
After reaching the Division III regional final a year ago and returning much of the team, Hubbard’s expectations are rather high this year, coach Brian Hoffman said. His confidence grows knowing he has an offensive line that’s on the same page.
“Every year, that’s something you have to impress on them early in camp,” Hoffman said of communicating. “It’s something that you have to work on and emphasize, to have them understand the different alignments and ways to communicate with each other, pre-snap, to make sure you pick up those extra defenders in the box. It all starts up front with those guys, so having seniors who have played, that’s a big asset.”