If an offensive line coach were to select an optimal set of five linemen who fit the traditional size and qualities wanted for constructing a strong run and passing game, Lynden's unit wouldn't be the first choice.
They might not be the second either, but the sheer determination of the Lions' front five to be successful has proved to be second to none.
Not one Lynden O-lineman started last year. The 2012 group was composed of big, strong, prototypical players, capable of dominating the point of attack. But this year's version has come into its own, paving the way for running backs Trent Postma, Jaremy Martin and quarterbacks Lucas Petersen and Sterling Somers.
"A lot of playing offensive line is taking pride in what you do," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said during a phone interview. "(Offensive line coach) Blake Witman, he develops personal relationships with the kids, and they seem to enjoy playing for him."
From left tackle Derron Dunnigan, to left guard Trevor Lange, to center Tristan Campbell to right guard Caden Lair and over to right tackle Kody Ames, each player has uniquely fit into Lynden's offensive line.
They'll be looking to make a big impact when No. 2-ranked Lynden plays Kingston during the Class 2A State Playoffs round of 16 at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at Civic Stadium.
Every lineman has matched or exceeded expectations, but Dunnigan has arguably been the most pleasant surprise. He supplanted Bryce Sterk when Sterk went down with an injury early in the year. At 5-foot-8, 225 pounds, he may not look like last year's standout lineman Matt Meyer, but he's been very effective on the left side.
"We were hoping he would be good," Kramme said, "but he has been really good."
His low center of gravity allows him to get a low-pad level, which has proved to be very beneficial.
Lange served as first backup on last year's state-title team and had the ability to play nearly every spot on the line. He is one of a long line of Lange brothers who've enjoyed success at Lynden. Kramme said he's the team leader in pancake blocks.
Campbell, a senior who missed most of last year with a season-ending injury, has provided emotional leadership at center and has great mental strength. What stands out to Kramme is his strong work ethic and desire to play at a high level.
Lair, a sophomore, is one in a long list of examples of Lynden's next-man-up mentality. Lair is now back playing guard, but his signature moment came when he was thrown into center duties against Sedro-Woolley.
"When we played Sedro-Woolley, which was really the league championship game, Tristan went down in one of the first plays of the second half. (Lair) got about three practice snaps and had to go in."
Ames, a senior, might be the most respected amongst the group. Ames had no plans to play offensive line after last year, but when Kramme told him his best chance to play was at right tackle, he embraced the opportunity and has had success. His 6-foot-4 height helps make him an effective pass blocker, and he's also been able to open some big running lanes.
Ames is a player who's handled scout team quarterback and receiver duties in the past. His willingness to play a non-flashy position has greatly benefitted the Lions.
Besides the offensive line, Kramme said Martin, who's played tight end and fullback, is a tremendous blocker.
Together, Lynden's blocking group has helped the Lions average 6.2 yards per carry, and although Lynden's offensive line is completely remade, Kramme said the experience it gained facing strong lineman upperclassmen in previous years has benefitted the unit. But more than raw skill, the line's will to win has propelled them to success.
"I think effort is always the No. 1 key in anything," Kramme said.
The group has gained a wealth of experience during the regular season, but their true test comes during Lynden's second season.
"A playoff atmosphere is something a lot of our guys maybe haven't been in," Kramme said. "They have been on the sidelines for many games, but very few made a direct contribution to last year's team. This is their opportunity to shine."
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
CLASS 2A STATE FIRST ROUND
? Kingston at Lynden (at Civic Stadium), 7 p.m.
? Sehome at Tumwater, 7 p.m.
CLASS 1A STATE FIRST ROUND
? Meridian at Cashmere, 1 p.m.
? Blaine at La Center (at Ridgefield), 3 p.m.
? Woodland at Mount Baker (at Civic Stadium), 6 p.m.
CLASS 1B TRI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
? Taholah at Lummi, 6 p.m.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.