Pocket protection

Huddle buddies The offensive line has made protecting the quarterback their number one priority, allowing only three sacks in their first five games. The rushing game is quite healthy, as well, as the Ichabods average 4.9 yards per rush.

Robert Burkett

Most coaches will tell you that games are won and lost in the trenches.

For Washburn’s offense, the foundation of everything that they accomplish starts up front along the offensive line. As a team that has steadily grown over the past few seasons, so too has an offensive line that has come up together since their freshman year and have steadily incorporated other newcomers into their fold.

“We’ve really tried to adopt the younger guys into our group,” said Ian Vistine, junior left guard.

Indeed, as the 2009 season has progressed, all the players along the offensive line have come together as a unit and feel like they have improved through each game. One of the reasons for this feeling is the continuity of the unit thus far this season.

“Last year we had a lot of injuries along the line and had to play a lot of different positions,” said Ty Lewis, junior center.

As the season has started to take shape, the offensive line has attempted to keep up the pressure on opposing defensive units by denying them the opportunities to attack the quarterback, having only surrendered two sacks so far this season and opening up holes for the running attack that has been as potent as any offensive attack in the conference this year.

As for goals, the offensive line is unique in how they measure their success as a group. Unlike other positions on the field that can point to yards, catches, touchdowns and a myriad of other statistical measures, the offensive line relies on others accomplishments to help them measure if they are keeping on track.

“We’d like to get 400 yards a game on the ground and hold opponents to zero sacks,” said Brian Folkerts, sophomore right tackle.

Despite all their success on the field this season, all the players agree that activities off the field have helped to develop the chemistry that the unit relies on during games as well. Various activities have included social gatherings and dinners on set days, which allow the team to build the spirit of brotherhood and work around busy schedules.

As for what brought the offensive linemen to Washburn varies. Some desire competition at the top levels.

“I came from Colorado where the [Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference] is,” said Lewis “I decided I wanted to play at Washburn in the MIAA since it really is the best conference in division two football.”

Other members of the offensive line came to Washburn as the program was starting to come up the ranks of MIAA powers and asserting itself as a competitive program.

“We just wanted to come here and make our mark at Washburn and help take the team to the next level,” said Bill Boyer, junior left tackle.