After Penn sprint football's 69-6 win over Caldwell in which the Quakers racked up 370 yards on the ground, junior running back Jake Klaus boldy proclaimed that, "In my three years I've been here, I've never seen a line this good."
On paper he certainly has a point. Despite losing two starters from last season, the Quakers still managed to upgrade their offensive line with the additions of sophomore William & Mary transfer Matt McDermott and highly accomplished high school freshman guard Jack Schaible.
Returning to the offensive line are senior guard Isaac Schuman, 2016 First-Team All-Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) junior tackle Benji Friedman and 2016 Second-Team All-CSFL sophomore center Matt Hermann.
But other than a Division I transfer, two returning all-league linemen, a highly touted freshman and an experienced senior, what makes this season's offensive line so special? In a word, chemistry.
While "chemistry" may be every player and coach's go-to cliché during an interview, it cannot ring truer for this year's line.
In order for any unit to be successful, it is up to the veterans to bring the new players up to speed. Even though Schaible was Defensive Player of The Year in his conference and First-Team All-State in high school, those accomplishments mean nothing in college. For Schaible, Hermann has been instrumental in helping him make the transition.
“I remember in the first week I was struggling with the playbook,” Scaible relfected. “Hermann just came up to my locker, [and said,] 'if you need any help my door is always open.' I took advantage of that.”
The fact Hermann went out of his way to help Schaible is unsurprising to those who knew him in high school at Germantown Academy.
“You would not find a better teammate to play and share a locker room with,” Germantown Academy offensive line coach Greg Isdaner said.
Even though Schaible struggled at first, he was praised by Friedman for being a quick learner and for not being afraid to ask for advice.
In addition to chemistry, the experience this group holds also help separates it. As a result of the 178-pound weight limit, many sprint football offensive lines are forced to be composed of players who have never played on the line competitively before. For Penn, though, four out of five starting lineman played offensive line in high school, Schuman being the only exception.
With most of them having starred as linemen in high school, the learning curve was less steep when compared to linemen at other programs.
Still, despite their undeniable talent, chemistry and experience, the offensive line does not feel they have proved themselves just yet.
“I don’t think we have played to our full potential yet, but once we do, it’ll be something special,” McDermott said.
That is a scary thought for opponents considering the Quakers have already run for 533 yards and 8 touchdowns as a team through the first two games of the season.
And the Red and Blue's linemen are certainly hoping they can play to their full potential this week against an Army team that has only given up 38 rushing yards through two games.
When all is said and done, though, the offensive line is unmoved by the prospects of possibly being the best Penn’s ever seen. Their main focus is helping the team repeat as CSFL champions.
“We don’t worry about who is the best ever or anything about that,” Friedman said. “W’s are what we’re after, not best-ever titles.”
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