Sehome senior offensive lineman Jeremy Johnson finds himself in a far different role than he had last season.
He’s still a starter, but when he looks around this year the big boys he’s working with are all new, and not quite as big for the most part.
The Mariners’ much-raved about offensive line last year, known for both its massive size and ability to push around a defensive front, has dissolved.
Johnson, once a junior among four seniors, has now been propelled into a leadership role.
“I think it’s going to be great,” Johnson said. “We kind of simplified our offense and defense, so that is great for our younger guys that are stepping up into their positions to learn something and be ready for the first game. I think they are ready to compete.”
Even though key players such as Drew Norvell, Tyler Haggen, Austin Rosas and George Loeppky graduated, both Johnson and coach Bob Norvell are more than optimistic about this year’s line and what they can do for the Mariners’ offense.
Scott McIvor-Garman saw varsity action last fall and is a big, strong player. He has the chance to be a breakout star, and Briley Funk would have been a starter on most offensive lines.
“Those guys are ready,” Bob said. “They are seniors, they believe in themselves and I believe in them. I’m giving them full reign to get after it.”
With another year under his belt, there’s a good chance Johnson could develop into one of the better blockers in the Northwest Conference. He’ll be in charge of opening holes for a pair of senior running backs in Daton Nestlebush and Tanner Patrick, who have been patiently waiting for their chance.
“These guys have been dedicated throughout the summer,” Johnson said. “ Nick Coats, for example, he had to be a counselor at a camp the whole summer, but he still put in the work at camp. He got a gym membership and he was running and stuff.”
It’s that type of dedication Johnson hopes will help the Mariners return to their 2013 state form.
Top offensive lineman to watch
1. Andrew Napier, Squalicum
Napier established himself as a force last season, serving as one of the catalysts for the Storm’s high-powered offensive attack. He’ll be tasked this season for opening rushing lanes for Damek Mitchell and providing time for new QB Garrett Sorenson.
2. Paul Lebedev, Mount Baker
Lebedev doubled down last year by adding offensive line play to his already stellar defensive line work. He developed into one of the league’s best lineman, and will paramount again this season.
3. Armando Moser-Hernandez, Blaine
With the graduation of Adam McShane and Jon Fakkema, the Borderites needed a leader to emerge, and Moser-Hernandez has taken control of that duty. He’ll be a fixture along Blaine’s line.