When you think of Lummi football, you think of a lot of points. An avalanche of points, actually. A national-record-tying amount of points.
You think of Jared Tom or Logan Toby hitting Austin Brockie or Dimitri Sampson or Dino Williams on long touchdown pass after long touchdown pass, or of Deion Hoskins or Sampson or Devin Cooper breaking off another big run.
But the truth of the matter is the Blackhawks wouldn't have anywhere near the 63.1 points or 480.9 yards of total offense per game they're averaging without three players - senior linemen Kevin Cultee, Jeremy Spottedbear and Eli Wall.
"The experience of those three guys up front has made a big difference for us this year," Lummi coach Jim Sandusky said in a phone interview. "They're all seniors, which means they've been in our program for four or five years - 31/2 in the case of Eli. They have a great understanding of our offense. They know what is expected of them. They know how to make adjustments, and they know how to make those adjustments without me or another one of my coaches telling them to make it."
The Blackhawks (9-2) will once again rely heavily on their offensive line when they take on Taholah in the first round of the Class 1B State Playoffs at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Aberdeen's Stewart Field.
"I think we've got to key on making blocks and staying with our blocks the entire game, all the way to the whistle," Wall said in a phone interview.
Playing offensive line in the eight-man game is really not all that much different than playing it in 11-man - linemen need to rely on leverage and strength to exact their will on an opponent. You've still got to blow an opponent off the ball and open lanes for your running backs on rushing plays and make sure you keep defenders off your quarterback to give him time to find open receivers in the passing game.
The only real difference is there are only three players to do the job, rather than five in 11-man. But there are also fewer defenders to worry about.
"There are less people to work with," Cultee said in a phone interview. "It's probably a little bit easier to block and know who you're supposed to block. There are not as many people to count."
Like in the 11-man game, communication between the linemen is paramount to success, as all three need to be on the same page with who is blocking whom.
"I think you have to be a little quicker on your feet," Spottedbear said in a phone interview. "I've played the 11-man in middle school. It was fun, but it was a little bit slower game. You have to be quicker with your running and passing blocks. That's the biggest difference in it."
Well, probably not quite the biggest.
Eight-man rules also allow any lineman - even the center - who is not covered to be an eligible receiver. Linemen don't even have to report to the referee or wear a certain number to be eligible to handle the ball.
"That's the fun part is trying to get them involved carrying the ball and running pass routes," Sandusky said. "We've actually done it quite a bit this year. Giving those guys a little sugar now and then doesn't hurt."
Except for Cultee, who said he injured a knee and missed about a month in the middle of the season the last time he ran a pass route.
But most of the time, the Blackhawks linemen enjoy the opportunity to share in the spotlight.
So far this year, Wall has two rushes for 29 yards and has caught four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
"That's a lot of fun," Wall said. "I like that feeling. ... My teammates were real excited for me."
Spottedbear has 40 yards on one rushing attempt this year and has caught one pass for an 80-yard touchdown.
"I liked it, but man I was out of wind," he said of his TD catch and run. "I felt kind of scared if I was going to drop the ball or not, but I haven't dropped it yet. It felt good after the run, knowing I got a good run out of it."
When they're not busy enjoying the glory, though, Lummi's linemen are pretty good at doing what you'd expect them to do - block.
Cultee, who plays center and measures at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds, was slated to be a starter last year, but missed most of the year after breaking his wrist in a preseason skateboarding mishap.
"He's fairly quick," Sandusky said. "He played basketball for us, so he's got good footwork. What he does best is he gets us the snap. We haven't had any misses yet - we've had a few that were on the verge, but none that went over the quarterback's head. That's the No. 1 thing about him is he gets a good snap to the quarterback or running back."
Spottedbear is the biggest of Lummi's linemen at 6-1, 234 pounds, and he's in his second year as a starter.
"He does a good job of staying on his block and being able to move people," Sandusky said. "He's got good size. He may not have the speed and quickness of Eli, but he makes up for it with his size and strength."
The 5-11, 221-pound Wall, who also is a two-year starter, is probably the most athletic of the three.
"He's a guy we can get out on a pass pattern if we need, but he's also very good as a blocker," Sandusky said. "He does a good job of keeping a low center of gravity. He's got good strength and does a good job of moving people or on a kick-out block. It takes a good athlete to be able to do that, and he's got some good size."
Sandusky said size doesn't always matter in the Blackhawks' fast-paced scheme, as he'd trade bulk and brute strength for guys that can get out and move and make downfield blocks for his many other offensive weapons.
And like most groups of offensive linemen anywhere, Lummi's are pretty tight on and off the field.
Not only do they work together to move the blocking sled around in practice, Cultee, Spottedbear and Wall are good friends that like to hang out and watch movies or play video games at home.
For the record, Wall is usually the best when they break out "Call of Duty" or "NBA2K12," and yes, he does talk trash when he beats his linemates.
"I think it makes us a lot closer," Cultee said. "We've known each other for a long time, and we're all friends. We get along, and we know how to communicate with each other. When we need to talk on the field, we know how to do that. We really like being around each other."
Lummi is glad to have them together in the trenches.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
SATURDAY'S STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
CLASS 2A STATE QUARTERFINALS
? Burlington-Edison at Capital (at Olympia Ingersoll Stadium), 4 p.m.
? Lynden at Sumner, 7:30 p.m.
CLASS 1A STATE QUARTERFINALS
? Mount Baker at La Center (at Battle Ground District Stadium), 1 p.m.
CLASS 1B STATE FIRST ROUND
? Lummi at Taholah (at Aberdeen Stewart Field), 3 p.m.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.