Averaging out at just under 6-feet tall, 220-pounds, you might deem the offensive line for the Indian River High School football team as slightly “undersized.”
Since the start of the season, they’ve consistently gone up against lineman tipping the scales at weights more typically seen at the NFL Scouting Combine, facing all 300-pounds of Cape Henlopen DT Robert Mitchell and Woodbridge senior DT Brian Ireland, among others.
At 245-pounds, even Cape junior running back Kolbi Wright packs on more poundage than nearly every IR starting lineman aside from junior tackle Cortez Tull.
But for “The Thin Green Line” of senior left tackle Griffin McCormick, senior left guard Michael Cedano, junior center Michael Corcoran, senior right guard Zion Howard, and Tull at right tackle, size doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to production.
“We’re a family,” Corcoran, who at 6-foot-2, 240-pounds touts the unit’s largest frame after Tull at 6-foot-2, 260-pounds, tried to explain their success. “We’re a unit. We’re not five individuals — we’re one unit.”
“The work ethic and the attitude starts with us,” added McCormick, who was named a team captain this season after a breakout year as a junior in 2015. “We stay positive and I think we keep each other up a lot of times throughout the game.”
Through eight games so far, McCormick and the rest of the line have not only set the tone in terms of leadership, but they’ve also paved the way for 1,575 rushing yards. After Friday’s game against Delmar, the group was averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game and just shy of pace for finishing with over 2,000 rushing yards total.
They’ve also allowed for senior running backs George “G-Mart” Martin and Gerald Foreman to average nearly 5-and-a-half yards per carry and rack up 17 touchdowns on over 230 attempts.
“It feels great,” said Cedano of paving the way for big runs. “It almost feels like you scored the touchdown.”
“I think we feel pretty proud of ourselves knowing that we’re paving the way for them,” added Howard. “I honestly don’t even know how many yards they’ve gotten. We just keep pushing the way — we’re just doing what we can to win.”
In going up against the considerably larger lines of Cape, Sussex Tech, and Maryland’s Linganore to start the season, selfless play proved integral in being able to stack up.
“Everybody does their job. Everybody stay on their blocks. It’s technique and the little things that really count,” Tull explained how they’ve been able to offset size mismatches.
“They’re not looking for that individual glory, they’re looking to try and get the win. They’re trying to do everything that they can to help the team win out there on that front line,” added IR offensive and defensive line coach Bob Hahn, who played offensive line for the Indians himself.
While skill position players will often set individual goals for themselves, aiming to rush for a certain amount of yards or throw for a certain number of touchdowns, it isn’t often that an offensive lineman will find his name in the box score.
So going along with their team-first mantra, it isn’t surprising that the goals that McCormick, Cedano, Corcoran, Howard and Tull set for themselves at the beginning of the season didn’t include a stat sheet — instead setting out to help their team clinch the South and make the playoffs above all else.
“The mindset every time we’re on the ball is to take down the person that’s in front of you, knowing in your mind that if you mess up it affects your running back or affects your quarterback,” Tull said.
“They’re always out there pushing and trying to figure out what they can do to make themselves and make the team better. They’re a positive group and they’re a tough group,” added Hahn.
“These guys have a lot of heart. They come out and they give 110 percent every day in practice, 110 percent in the games — I can’t tell you one time this year, win, lose, or draw, that I’ve seen one of them with their heads down.”
With McCormick and Cedano also lining up at defensive end, Tull and Corcoran at defensive tackle, and Howard often leading the team in solo tackles at linebacker, none of them are strangers to the box score in playing key roles on defense and aiming to help their team in any way they can.
But whether you refer to them on offense as “unsung heroes” or “hog-mollies” or even “The Thin Green Line,” perhaps the group can be better identified as an all together different classic re-telling of the Second World War, lining up in the trenches every Friday night, ready to do battle together unquestionably as a “Band of Brothers.”
“They’ve picked up on each other’s strengths, they’ve picked up on each other’s weaknesses. They’ll sit together for meals in the cafeteria, they’ll sit together on the bus — they’re friends,” said Hahn. “They’re there for each other through everything.”
With two games left to go, that Band of Brothers needed to block for 425 rush yards for the team to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark on the season, and 127 yards for Martin to become the Indians’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013.
For a group that might often get written off as “undersized” or “small,” pulling off those kind of numbers would certainly make for a pretty big season.