That’s especially true when the group in question is plowing lanes for Kyle Flaherty and Alex Mace, who accumulated close to 7,000 combined rushing and receiving yards during their career at Oak Hill High School.

So you might not have noticed that Garrett Gile, Austin Goucher and Brendon Tervo each have started not one, but two Class D championship games, for the Raiders.

They were part of the victory celebration in both games, and they’re back as seniors, which means that the Raiders’ new threats to run and catch the ball have a terrific head start.

“Football is a team sport, anyway,” Goucher, a guard, said. “Kyle Flaherty and Alex Mace are great players, take nothing away from them, but (winning) comes from everybody working together to get it done.”

Oak Hill’s prowess up front runs much deeper than the trio of three-year starters.

Gavin Chasse and Connor Elwell each have started at tackle. Adam Mooney is a veteran of the regular rotation. And while their younger understudies may not play right away, Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette marvels that they’re already physically larger than the senior and juniors.

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It presents Doucette with a luxury not many Class D South coaches enjoy.

“I don’t want to say we have five starters pegged out yet,” Doucette said. “We have a lot of kids competing on the offensive and defensive line. You can see where this is going. A lot of them might play one way. We think the strength of our team is going to be in the trenches this year.”

The surplus is evident when the team breaks up by position for drills.

Linemen trot to their designated spot and spread out across the stripe that marks the yard line.

“They take up the whole field,” Doucette said. “I don’t even know how many we have, but we have a big group. The kids take pride in it.”

Gile has started at center since sophomore year, snapping the ball to Parker Asselin and now Dalton Therrien. Tervo is the other guard.

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When training camp commenced in August, the Raiders didn’t have to sweat any small, time-consuming communication details.

“Everybody has grown up together and knows what we can and can’t do,” Gile said. “I feel like we’ve gotten stronger in the offseason.”

And the cupboard is anything but bare in the backfield.

Therrien is one of the top quarterbacks in Class D. Levi Buteau, Steven Gilbert, Cruz Poirier, Colby Spencer and Brian Thorpe saw substantial varsity carries a year ago while Flaherty was sidelined three games due to injury.

“It’s about trust,” Goucher said of the transition. “They have to trust us enough to get our blocks and create the lines for them to run the ball and give Dalton time to throw the ball, and we trust them to run the way they’re supposed to, throw the way they’re supposed to and get open.”

The line’s experience and wisdom make it easy to build those relationships.

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“We have a lot of vocal leaders. If they’re not a vocal leader, they’re a leader by example,” Doucette said. “They know what it takes. They’ve been there. Four out of the five are kids that have started in the state game, and kids that don’t start have played in the state game, so they know what it takes to get there.”

Oak Hill has grown accustomed to being everyone’s target as the program to beat in Class D South.

And neither state championship season was perfect. The Raiders have a propensity for learning from losses, correcting errors and growing from August to November.

Perhaps those are qualities learned from their line, where every play is a battle and every miniscule detail can result in the success or failure of that play.

“(Being the defending champion) pushes us to live up to last year’s team,” Gile said.

“Everybody makes a mistake, and you have to find a new way to tackle that mistake and improve on it for next time,” Goucher added. “An example of that was Dirigo (a Week 2 loss) last year. That was tough losing Flaherty at that time, but we learned there are other players on the depth chart we can fill in that can step up and we trust.”

Depth. Trust. Those are more than mere lines when it comes to this line.


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