WALES — How do you replace a player like 2013 Frank J. Gaziano Award winner Luke Washburn?

“You don’t,” Oak Hill head coach Stacen Doucette said with a smile after his team’s 7-6 win over Lisbon in the Campbell Conference championship last Saturday, “but we have good players, though.

“Luke is an exceptional player. Luke is special, although we have some special players, too.”

Last season Washburn, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound lineman who now plays at Husson University, was a force for the Raiders in their quest for their first state championship in football since 1982.

This fall you will not find a player even close to Washburn’s size on Oak Hill, yet the team once again finds itself in position to play for another Class D championship Saturday at 2:36 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“None of us can match up to Luke. We lost some weight compared to him,” Oak Hill senior lineman Mike Pease, who is listed at 5-7 and 165 pounds, said. “For what we lack in strength, we have to make up for in quickness and dedication and we just have to work hard every week. There’s no taking breaks. We can’t take breaks and we always have to work on the little things.”

Intangibles have been what has allowed the Oak Hill offensive and defensive lines to succeed this season, as physically they are far from what you consider prototypical.

Of the Raiders’ regular rotation along the line, only tackle Connor Elwell — listed at 6-0, 200 pounds — tips the scale at 200 pounds or greater, which is still on the smaller side for offensive lineman.

Even still, the group of Pease, Elwell, center Garrett Gile (5-11, 195), guard Kody Voisine (5-10, 165), tackle Austin Goucher (6-4, 195) and utility lineman Brendan Tervo (5-11, 175) have managed to consistently plow the way for running backs Kyle Flaherty and Alex Mace.

“They’re intelligent,” assistant coach Geoff Wright, who coaches the line along with Doucette, said. “A lot of it has to do with coach Doucette’s schemes. He comes up with good blocking schemes and because of their intelligence they work together.

“They communicate at the line of scrimmage all the time so they’re going to the right place at the right time. For us with our speed and our two great backs that’s really what we need to do.”

As a result, the Raiders are anything but vanilla when it comes to their play in the trenches.

As the center when Oak Hill is in its double wing offense — which has been the preferred set for the Raiders as of late — Gile is almost always blocking straight ahead, but where they tend to get creative is at the guard positions. There, they use the strengths of the smaller, quicker Pease and Voisine to overload one side or the other.

The Raiders’ versatility comes with its own set of challenges though, particularly when it comes to keeping their assignments straight during a play or series.

“We do quite a bit,” Gile said. “We just learn every single day.

“We just worked really hard. We came out every day in practice and just pushed our sled. Just kept pushing and pushing and we know we’re the smallest offensive line, but we’ve got one heart and we’re going to push it.”

Their hard work has not been lost on those who are running behind them, as time and time again Mace and Flaherty have credited the team’s offensive line for their success. The duo has combined to rush for 2,528 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.

“They’re off the ball at the same time,” Flaherty said. “They communicate on the line, they talk. They know exactly what they want to do every play.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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