LIVERMORE FALLS – Mark O’Shea knows he’s the envy of running backs all over Western Class C.

“It’s great knowing you’ve got probably the biggest line (and) the most experienced line in the league, that just gives you a confidence boost,” O’Shea said.

A number of running backs have run hard and confident behind the young men who now block for O’Shea and the rest of Livermore Falls’ grinding double-wing offense. Tackle Mike Durrell and center Craig Jackman are three-year starters, tackle Rory Young is in his second year in the lineup.

The senior trio has blocked for some of the league’s top backs – Brad Bryant going back to their sophomore year, Ryan Webster last year, O’Shea this year. All three had different running styles, but the one constant has been the offensive line.

“We make the running backs adjust to us,” Durrell said only half-jokingly.

Complemented by junior guards Dylan Brayley and Donovan Smith, Durrell, Jackman and Young form the rugged backbone of a line that averages 223 pounds.

Their size helps, the linemen said, but their technique is the real key to moving opposing defenses and moving the chains.

“Basically, it just comes down to doing our assignments properly,” Durrell said. “Make some good down blocks, and when we have a double-team, come through with it.”

The man in the middle, Jackman, is the smallest of the trio at 5-foot-10 and a solid 220. So it’s not surprising that his value to the line sometimes gets lost even though, in many ways, he is the eyes and ears of the unit.

“We all give signals. I give the odds or evens (depending on whether someone is lined up across from him at nose guard),” Jackman said.

“It’s funny,” Bishop said, “I thought he was going to be a fullback his freshman year, but I nudged him over to center, and he’s been over there starting since his sophomore year. He’ll be missed. He kind of gets overlooked every year, and he’s gotten better every year.”

The tackles, Durrell (6-foot-6, 226 pounds) and Young (6-foot-2, 290), are beefy bookends, but they’re anything but lumbering behemoths.

“They’re big, but they’re good on their feet, both of them. That helps,” Andies coach Brad Bishop said. “Size in the line has never been an issue with me. It’s execution and quickness off the ball and toughness. These guys can pull, and they can lead plays and they can block well.”

“They’re big boys, but they’re in great shape,” O’Shea said. “They get it done for four quarters. They’re a punishing force.”

The Andies line hasn’t formed a club or given itself a nickname like the Hogs from the Washington Redskins’ glory days. If they did, though, they’d probably make O’Shea a member like the Hogs did running back John Riggins.

“(O’Shea) runs hard. He keeps his feet moving,” Young said. “He earns his keep as much as we earn ours.”

The current line is proud to carry on a long tradition of big, physical units at Livermore Falls that’s produced the likes of Shawn Demaray, who is currently starting at the University of Maine.

For the last five years under Bishop, the linemen have run pretty much the same plays game after game and year after year. Like another team that wore green and gold, the old Green Bay Packers, the Andies aren’t hard to figure out. Stopping them is a whole other matter.

“We start out with about eight or nine things that we want to do, then we pare it down to about six or seven,” Bishop said. “From there, it’s a matter of execution.”

So does this line execute the best since, say, the 2004 group that led the Andies to the Western Maine final?

“It’s hard to compare because we’ve had some many good lines coming up through the past I don’t know how many years now,” Young said. “We’ve always had a pretty decent line.”

Decent doesn’t do this one justice.


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