Cougar Road CrewThe heart, soul and drive of any offense begins with how well an offensive line can shut down opposing defenses.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The heart, soul and drive of any offense begins with how well an offensive line can shut down opposing defenses.
In the case of No. 2-ranked Heart River, a run-happy team with three quick backs, it’s no different.
“All three of our running backs realize they get the yards because of the job the offensive line does,” Heart River head coach Dave Hendrickson said. “Not that you have to have a gaping hole all the time. If we can just get a crease or a seam, our small running backs can get through, that’s the name of the game.”
Heart River doesn’t normally pass during games. That’s because of senior running backs Seth Ewoniuk, Cole Hecker and Cole Hlebechuk.
“They (offensive line) are the staple to our team,” Ewoniuk said. “We couldn’t go anywhere without them blocking. Running backs always look good on paper, but they’re the ones that are doing the real work.”
Hendrickson and the rest of the Heart River team made it clear. Friday night’s Class 1A, Region 4 home game against No. 5-ranked Hazen is its biggest test so far this season. Plus, it is the team’s homecoming game.
“We’re really excited,” Ewoniuk said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the region for a reason. They’re a really good team and we’re just excited that we get to play them at home.”
The offensive line will be tested facing the Bison. But Hendrickson said his players know, no matter who they are playing, it’s about getting the right blocks.
“The big thing for our offensive line, they know who they block,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what defense they see. They know who to block. If they can just get a shoulder pad and hopefully more, our backs are good enough to get through.”
The Heart River offensive line includes seniors Hlebechuk, Riley Obrigewitch, Mitchell Krebs and tight end Isaiah Marschner. The underclassmen on the line are junior Seth Obritsch and sophomore Clayton Tangen.
“We’re about the same as last year,” Obrigewitch said. “We’ve got new guys and they are picking up their line drills really well. Cole Hlebechuk is going great at the fullback.”
Hlebechuk has been raved about by both coaches and players after taking over the fullback position vacated by graduated standout Jordan Strecker.
“Cole is an athlete,” Ewoniuk said. “He’s built like a brick house. He runs just as fast as me and Cole Hecker once he gets going.”
Obrigewitch is proud to have helped Ewoniuk break the Heart River school rushing record and see the team’s offense thrive behind a solid line.
“It’s really a great privilege to do that for them,” Obrigewitch said. “It’s nice opening up a hole and letting them get that big run.”
The only problem working against the Heart River offensive line is its lack of size. Across the line, the Cougars are 250, 215, 185, 180 and 165 pounds. Hendrickson said if they can make their blocks, size becomes a non-factor.
“The bottom line on the offensive line is if you know who to block,” he said. “Our kids do that. We can block, hopefully, most defenses. Our kids are aggressive, intelligent and they get off onto the next block.”