The big dawgs: Hamilton O-line ready for hype - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

The big dawgs: Hamilton O-line ready for hype

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Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 1:11 pm | Updated: 3:53 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Nicknames were casually bantered along Hamilton's offensive line.

The latest attempt being the "Fab Five," but that didn't stick. It was already used by the University of Michigan basketball team in the early 1990s, and its cheesiness was quickly rejected by the boys.

So the search continues, but given the unit's personalities and disposition from the group's elders, don't wait around.

"We're the Huskies, we don't need a name," offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone said during Monday's first practice to begin 2010.

"We're not trying to live up to any hype. We'll do our job and win games."

None of this, however, will keep the buzz and outside banter at bay.

The two-time 5A Division I champs return three starters from last year's offensive line, a couple more guards who've been in the program four years and a transfer from Nevada that has piqued coaches' curiosities about what he can do once pads are put on.

Even on day one, the Huskies weren't afraid to point out the possibility this can be the best offensive line in school history.

Johnstone and Christian Westerman Jr. are the returning tackles, both committed to BCS colleges this summer (Johnstone to Oregon, Westerman to Texas). Nick Cosenza returns as the team's starting center and 6-foot-4, 270-pound John Archuleta was already being looked at by Division I colleges outside Las Vegas when his family moved to Arizona last spring.

Add veterans such as Sergio Martinez and Steve Oliver in the mix for even more size, strength and depth.

"It's as good as any I've had on paper, but I'd like their actions to be louder than these words," Huskies coach Steve Belles said.

A minute later: "If I was a running back and I couldn't run behind this line, there's trouble."

The backfield should have plenty of chances. The Huskies will have new running backs after Zach Bauman and Michael Allen graduated, along with a relatively "green" receiving corps for quarterback Kyren Poe takes over after he intermittently showed his potential passing and running last year when he shared snaps with Travis Dean.

Given the obvious strengths, the Huskies figure to run and use the option attack extensively.

Johnstone and Westerman have taken on the leadership roles through example and an occasional scream, a role and limelight neither claimed to have hesitation absorbing from those before them, namely former teammate Alex Cosenza.

They were also around in 2007, when the Huskies had what Belles thought at the time was his best line. But coach and current players said that unit was bogged down by personality conflicts and diverging motivations.

This group pledges not to fall into that trap. Though both Johnstone and Westerman said committing to a college wasn't intentionally done to get that process out of the way, both considered it an added bonus for the tunnel vision needed to succeed through what's going to be an extra-long season.

"We watched and heard about those guys and learned from it," Westerman said.

Added Johnstone: "We don't want to be like that again. That's something we preach."

Regardless of who the Huskies settle with as the fourth and fifth members of its starting quintet, the group will average close to 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds. They all have Varsity experience and helped the Huskies to an 8.2 yards-per-carry average last season.

Welcome to "maul ball."

"We're solid and only going to get better with time," Westerman said. "Whatever D-Line is put in front of us is going to have a hard time."

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