Washburn’s defensive line shape the game

Pile it on The Washburn Ichabods defensive linemen come together to bring down a rival opponent of the Missouri Western State University Griffons. Washburn’s defense has been a key in their 7-1.

When one thinks to defensive superstars in professional football today, typically names of linebackers and defensive backs will be brought up. However, not many names of defensive linemen would be.

On the contrary, the “men in the trenches” represent the tough drawn out battles that go on during a football game. They are extremely important to the football team.

“Our job is to fill gaps for our assignments, put pressure on the quarterback during passes and stopping the runs that come our way,” said senior Dakota Palan-Johnson.

Palan-Johnson is one of the starting defensive ends for the Washburn football team.

The ends are lined up on the outside part of the line while the tackles are in the middle. All together, they are considered the defensive line.

The defensive line has many obligations. The linemen can force pressure on the quarterback just by being in the right spot and mess everything up.

“Whether we sack the quarterback to force a punt or strip the ball and recover a fumble, we can change the game in a heartbeat,” said Palan-Johnson.

However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Imagine a 300 pound man trying to get in the way of everything Palan-Johnson does. This is grueling and exhausting process that takes mental and physical preparation leading up to the games. For Palan-Johnson, he has his own routine of working out to prepare.

“I lift three times a week,” said Palan-Johnson. “Tuesday is a heavy lift, Thursday is a medium and Sunday is just to relax after the games.”

The mental preparation takes just as much effect on the game as the physical side. When the adrenaline is kicked in and the play is about to start, this can be an anxious time for the defensive linemen.

“The hardest thing is trying to stay perfect on your assignments,” said Palan-Johnson.  “It’s so easy to mess up an assignment when the only thing on your mind is beating the man in front of you.

They do have fun, though. There are certain opportunities throughout the game to make the “big play” that can change the momentum of the game entirely. The more they prepare, the more opportunities there are. 

“I love the opportunity to punish the ball quarterback for a sack,” said Palan-Johnson. “Especially if he doesn’t see it coming.”

 Whether it is sacking the quarterback or just doing the little things to fill assignments, the defensive linemen are always ready to fight their way to help the Ichabod football team be successful.