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High School Sports

Offensive linemen are happy to do the heavy lifting for undefeated Golden Bears

  • Author: Matt Nevala
  • Updated: September 8
  • Published September 8

Bartlett’s Elijah Lear runs for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage during the Golden Bears’ 73-13 win over Chugiak. (Matt Tunseth/Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

While likely not true of every high school athlete who plays center, guard or tackle, Bartlett High football co-head coach John Jessen believes certain character traits are shared by most who are willing to put in work on the offensive line.

"If you're moving in or out of a house and you need some furniture moved, these are the guys that will always come over and move that furniture," said Jessen, a lineman in his formative years. "Linemen in high school are almost always selfless, and right now we're blessed to have a lot of talented lineman."

Historically, football's skill position players receive the glory. The offensive linemen provide the guts.

Case in point: Friday night's first play from scrimmage in undefeated Bartlett's never-in-doubt 73-13 Chugach Conference road win over Chugiak at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium.

The Golden Bears' starting line of junior Shyler Trepanier (left tackle), senior Thomas Sio (left guard), senior Max Schuster (center), Joshua Ellis (right guard) and Iolana Haines (right tackle) showcased excellent execution, springing senior Elijah Lear to go untouched on an 80-yard scoring run 12 seconds into the festivities.

"Do what it takes to keep our backs on their feet," Schuster said.

Once those backs are downfield and in the clear, pride for a job well done sets in.

"I'm happy for (Lear) once I see the result," Sio said. "He's supporting the team by doing what's he doing and I'm doing the same."

Through its first five games, Bartlett's entire offensive unit and its well-oiled wing-T scheme have been virtually unstoppable. The Golden Bears (5-0 overall, 2-0 Chugach) averaged nearly 580 yards on the ground entering the week and compiled 553 rushing yards against the Mustangs on 49 carries — an absurd 11.2 yards per carry.

Toss in 48 yards through the air, and Bartlett amassed 601 yards while holding Chugiak to 125.

Eleven different ball carriers received touches, including senior Uriah Alenepi. With his first carry of the season, he scored on a 15-yard run late in the third quarter.

To the untrained eye, the wing-T looks simple enough.

"Run the ball off tackle to both sides, weak and strong," Jessen said. "Counters, misdirection and a few plays to the outside like the jet sweep."

The offense is fun for linemen, Jessen said, because it relies heavily on their speed, strength and movement when pulling or trap-blocking. The linemen themselves concur.

"Pulling is my thing," Sio said with a huge smile.

Schuster said a burst of energy and anticipation comes with each play call.

"An urge takes over, you want to do what's right and make something positive happen," he said.

With help from the line, Lear finished with 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns Friday night. The team's leading rusher, senior Hunter Cargill, piled up 138 yards on 15 carries and scored twice.

Michael Tosi, Josh Siania, Duane Chavis and Demario Moore also scored touchdowns. Moore's score — a 50-yard run — came on his first touch of the evening early in the opening quarter.

Chugiak coach Ryan Landers said the Mustangs had to forfeit their only victory of the season for using a player in too many quarters in Week 4's win over Wasilla. The forfeit and Friday's loss dropped Chugiak to 0-5 overall, 0-2 conference.

Quarterback Quentin Wilson scored both Mustangs touchdowns and Austin Harr rushed seven times for 83 yards. While the night seemed grim for Chugiak, one moment was worth remembering.

At halftime, the Mustangs honored their unbeaten 1988 state championship team on its 30-year anniversary. Legendary Chugiak coaches Tom Huffer Sr. — the stadium's namesake — and Paul Brauneis joined about 15 other coaches and players from that squad on the field for a brief ceremony.

"The biggest takeaway being just how much those players still mean to me after all these years," Huffer Sr. said moments after the on-field celebration concluded.

Friday’s scores

Bartlett 73, Chugiak 13
Colony 24, West 19
Palmer 43, Norht Pole 7
Houston 22, Ketchikan 20
Kodiak 20, Lathrop 12
Barrow 33, Redington 6

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