For years, Bartlett offensive linemen have often been defined by the way they sprint out of the huddle to the line of scrimmage play after play. While repetitive, it's easy to admire the hustle.
The Golden Bears have also consistently blocked well in the 16 years it's taken for coach John Jessen to earn the most victories in school history. As evidenced by fourth-ranked Bartlett's steady 35-13 win over Chugiak at Anchorage Football Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the boys up front on the line thrive mentally as well as they do physically.
Bolstered by the line play and backfield trio of Trent Anthony, Keenan Honore and Michael Heckmann, the Golden Bears averaged 7.4 yards per rush attempt en route to 326 yards.
Anthony carried the ball 11 times for a game-high 141 yards, Honore nine times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and Heckmann 12 times for 57 yards and two scores.
The regular use of each back -- seldom does someone touch the ball on successive plays -- is a Bartlett staple during Jessen's time on the sidelines. Whether or not by design, the heavy rotation has a way of keeping the attention of the linemen at all times.
"The task for us is always to access the ability of our backs to hit the holes, to score and I guess to just run the ball," Bartlett senior center Henry Loia said. "As a line, we want our backs to get as many yards and score as many touchdowns as they can.
"It doesn't really matter who has the ball as long my back gets what he wants. The job is to make them happy."
Happiness is winning games. Yet Jessen said not every running back is thrilled with spreading the carries around.
"I had a kid complaining today," Jessen said. "He went crazy. But the one thing is, at another school you might get 100 yards on 33 carries and get beat down in the process. Here you may get 100 yards on 12 carries.
"It's a good deal. The key is everybody buying in."
Bartlett's tradition of attacking defenses with multiple backs is certainly nothing new. Neither is Chugiak's penchant for running the football. The Mustangs finished with a mediocre 203 rushing yards. They averaged 4.7 yards an attempt and used seven different ball carriers to do so, including six on a scoreless game-opening drive.
Chugiak coach Duncan Shackelford admitted he and the Mustangs are still searching for their go-to running backs.
"I'm going to find the three guys who want to carry the ball," he said. "I'm tired of rotating. I want to find the guys who want to step up do some good things. We will find them."
Shackelford looked down at his laminated play-calling card and pointed to the names of the backs he used on specific series. He said he game plans ahead of time to know who will be on the field almost every offensive series. Forget about spontaneity.
"Maybe I overanalyze things," Shackelford said. "I know we're going to play smash-mouth football and come after people. Maybe it's my fault.
"Heck, it is my fault. We lost the game."
Chugiak fell to 2-2 overall and in the Cook Inlet Conference.
Bartlett improved to 3-1 and 2-1 in conference with a showdown looming later this week against top-ranked Service.
"It's going to be a highly-charged emotional game," Jessen said.
Which, if you believe the jovial Bartlett coach, would be a marked improvement on Saturday's vibe.
"Today, the atmosphere of the game wasn't too exciting," he said. "I've been to puritan churches that were more exciting. I don't know if people were mad that winter is coming or what happened, but it was business-like and methodical."
Chugiak 0 10 0 3 -- 13
Bartlett 0 21 6 8 -- 35
Bartlett -- Heckmann 6 run (King-Dunbar kick), 11:55.
Chugiak -- Timberlake 1 run (Lowe kick), 11:34.
Bartlett -- Belgarde 16 pass from King-Dunbar (kick failed), 9:30.
Bartlett -- Heckmann 2 run (Anthony pass from King-Dunbar), 6:21.
Chugiak -- Lowe 30 FG, 2:24.
Bartlett -- Honore 23 run (kick failed), 3:59.
Chugiak -- Lowe 26 FG, 11:17.
Bartlett -- Honore 18 run (Honore run), 4:19.
First downs 10 16
Rushes-yards 43-203 44-326
Passing yards 16 87
Return yards 120 119
Passes 4-11-0 5-8-1
Punts 2-35.0 3-23.6
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-25 6-69
RUSHING -- Chugiak: Wenzl 13-103, Timberlake 8-35, Fitzhugh 5-26, Schneider 9-22, Prince 5-13, Snell 2-4, Nicholson 1-0. Bartlett: Anthony 11-141, Honore 9-77, Heckmann 12-57, King-Dunbar 6-26, Brons 3-17, Parker 2-8, Belgarde 1-0.
PASSING -- Chugiak: Wenzel 4-11-0--16, Prince 0-0-0--0. Bartlett: King-Dunbar 4-7-1--78, Anthony 1-1-0--9, Belgarde 0-0-0--0.
RECEIVING -- Chugiak: Snell 3-15, Timberlake 1-1. Bartlett: Predmore 1-32, Honore 1-30, Belgarde 1-16, Wells 1-9, Anthony 1-0.
By MATT NEVALA
Daily News correspondent