By Mickey Winfield: PNT sports writer
You won’t see their names in the box score, and rarely do you hear their names in the radio broadcast, but ask anybody who knows, the Portales offensive line is the centerpiece of the 2006 Ram football team.
In three games this season, the Portales rushing attack has churned out 400 yards, including 208 yards on the ground at Raton the third week of the season. And the Portales offensive line warriors take a lot of pride in that success.
“We’re proud of what we do, and we try to work hard in practice,” senior right tackle Chris Christensen said.
The Rams have the benefit of sending a relatively experienced group onto the field every Friday night, with three seniors and two juniors.
Lining up next to Christensen is fellow senior, Kaleb Aguirre, at right guard. The Rams starting center is senior Aaron Duran, and the two juniors both line up on the left side of the line. Junior left guard T.J Garcia and junior left tackle Travis Field, complete the Rams front line.
First-year Portales head coach Andy Correll didn’t hold back when describing the importance of his offensive line.
“We go as they go,” said Correll.
However, senior right guard Kaleb Aguirre said the line doesn’t feel the pressure of carrying the team’s rushing game, they just do their job.
“We don’t take too much pressure on us,” Aguirre said. “Every day we just try and get better, if we get better every day, then by the time district comes, we’re just going to be clicking as an offense and everything will just fall our way, and we’ll be better as a unit and as a team.”
Aguirre isn’t the only Ram who doesn’t see the burden of carrying the running game as pressure.
“I don’t think it’s pressure, I think it’s pride,” coach Correll said. “They want to run the football, any time I give them an opportunity to come up with a play, they call a running play, so it’s a pride thing.”
The boys also understand that while they are recognized by the coaching staff as a crucial unit, they will never get much attention from outsiders.
“Coming into the position, you know it’s going to be that way,” Christensen said. “So we think that when Eric (Segovia) does good, we do good, we’ve never really been too concerned with it, because we know it’ll always be that way.”
The group’s unofficial leader Christensen, says the line’s top strength is speed.
“We have a quicker offensive line than most other teams do, we get off the ball quick, and we know our assignments pretty well,” Christensen said.
With the line’s speed, a trade-off comes with size, where the Portales kids often line up against a bigger, stronger defensive line, a scenario likely to occur this Friday night as the Rams host the Goddard Rockets.
“We’re trying to teach them to stay low and keep moving their feet and keep driving,” Correll said. “And that will negate any size difference that we’re going to see, and we’re going to see some size differences Friday night, Goddard is big.”
Although the Rams line isn’t huge, the Portales coaching staff affectionately refer to the guys on the offensive line as ‘The Hogs’, a term once used to describe the dominating Washington Redskins line of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. That’s one nickname the kids on the Portales line don’t particularly like.
“Hogs are big and ugly,” Christensen said.
The Portales offensive line and the rest of the Rams line up against the Goddard Rockets, Friday night at Greyhound Stadium.