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Athlete of The Week: Summit Football Offensive Line

The Summit Hilltoppers' offensive line has paved the way for a new school record in rushing yards on the way to the team's 11-0 start.

The old football adage says that championship-caliber teams are built from the inside out, starting with the interior linemen.  For proof, look no further than this year’s who has relied on a strong offensive line to pave the way for an overwhelming rushing attack.  The group features captain and center ‘12, guards Andrew Oristanio ’13 and Tyler Reinmund ’13 and tackles Kyle Codey ’12 and Billy Hadley ’12.

“They are an extremely tight-knit group who takes pride in what they do,” said Liberato. “They are their own worst critics and they try to improve every week.”

The unit has been the catalyst for some impressive feats as they have climbed to within one game of a second state championship in three years.  Summit has rushed for 3154 yards on the season, which set a new school record for most in a season, breaking the previous record of 3069 set by the 2009 North 2 Group 2 championship squad.  The numbers are equally impressive when looked at on a per-game basis as the Hilltoppers produced an average on 287 yards per game and 7.4 yards per carry.      

“They love getting downfield and blocking on the second level to get the extra yardage for our running backs,” said head coach John Liberato.

From the outset its apparent that this is an unbelievably well prepared group who has put in the effort both in-season and in the offseason. The group pushed itself this summer to prepare for the mental and physical endurance necessary for Summit’s no-huddle offense to excel this season. 

“They knew the offseason was going to benefit them greatly so they made a huge investment and policed themselves as far as getting to workouts and doing what they needed to do to prepare for the offense,” said Liberato. “The team also worked with Vince Gabriele once a week this summer who put our group through a professional style workout to better their conditioning.”

Gabriele’s workouts have allowed the unit to be in peak physical condition as they continue to try to wear down teams late into the game. A well-conditioned offensive line is a must for a successful no-huddle attack.  The better the endurance of the linemen, the quicker the team can get on the ball. The quicker the team gets on the ball, the more plays that they can run throughout a game.  The more plays that they can run, the more chances they get at scoring points.

The unit maximizes their practice time by taking advantage of down time to better understand their blocking schemes. Many people don’t grasp the complexities of blocking schemes, especially considering that they vary week to week based on the opponent’s defense. By understanding their assignments on every play, the linemen can focus on getting set at the line of scrimmage as the offense tries to quickly run the next play. 

“Defenses have been giving us a lot of different looks this season so we have had a lot to prepare for,” said Liberato. “Our coaches do an awesome job of doing pre-pratcice workouts with the group and maximizing our time by walking through schemes during special teams.”

With a North 2 Group 2 championship just one game away, the unit will have to be at their best when the Hilltoppers try to stop defending champion Madison’s 24-game winning streak. While no outcome can be certain, it is safe to say that the Summit offensive line will be more than prepared this Friday at Kean University. 

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