WINTHROP — When Nate Scott takes a handoff and cuts up the field, most spectators’ eyes tend to gravitate to him.

A good running back needs to have a unique combination of speed, power and decision-making, and Scott, a junior on the Winthrop/Monmouth football team, displayed all those traits on his way to 152 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in a 27-3 win over Maranacook last Friday night in a Campbell Conference Class D quarterfinal playoff game at Maxwell Field.

After the performance and once again before Tuesday night’s practice, though, Scott was quick to credit those who often get overlooked the most — the offensive line.

“They definitely work their butts off in practice and really exceeded expectations,” Scott said. “They get the job done.”

A running back crediting his offensive line has pretty much become cliche, but getting to this point has not been easy for the Ramblers (5-3). This season they have started nine different players along the offensive line.

“At the beginning of the year we were missing assignments,” Ramblers head coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “When we looked at the film (Monday) afternoon we had all the linemen come up early from practice and we watched the Maranacook film.

“…We saw every one of them making key blocks, making adjustments on blocks that weren’t there at the beginning of the year.”

One of those players in particular has been starting tight end Ben Ames, a senior who did not see a ton of time as a junior. In the offseason, though, Ames worked in the weight room and has developed into one of the better blocking tight ends in the conference.

According to St. Hilaire, one play in particular stood out from last Friday night demonstrating Ames’ growth as a player this season.

“He had sealed the edge and (Maranacook senior Kyle) Morand was coming from the middle ‘backer position,” St. Hilaire said. “(Ames) is blocking, engaged on this guy and he gets a quick forearm shiver on Morand just to allow Scott to get out through the hole. That just shows what kind of a blocker he is.”

For the most part, the Ramblers’ offensive line is full of players like Ames. Hunter Hamlin — a 325-pound right tackle who missed some time at the beginning of the season — and center Brendon Dunn were the only ones with significant prior experience heading into this season.

“He’s our anchor,” St. Hilaire said of Dunn. “He’s our best lineman.”

Left guard Jack Vickerson is a converted defensive back who looks much more like a cornerback. The undersized offensive lineman makes up for his lack of size with tenacity, though, and utilizes his speed well as a pulling guard position.

Ryan Hafford was in a position battle with two or three other players for the position formerly held by Jeremy Mihilakis — left tackle — and began the season behind Trenton Wood on the depth chart. When Wood went down with a knee injury in preseason, though, Hafford stepped in and has gotten the job done, according to St. Hilaire.

“It’s been great just playing with everyone,” Hafford said. “Our job is to open holes and block for (quarterback) Matt (Ingram) and everyone else. We go out there and just hit people so it’s awesome.”

Josh Ward began his career at Winthrop/Monmouth as a fullback, but with Alec Brown and Dustin Tripp both ahead of him at the position, the Ramblers moved him to right guard.

“Initially he didn’t like it, but he moved to guard because he’s a good team player,” St. Hilaire said. “He’s just been phenomenal at that right guard position.”

Zach Wallace played well when put at guard this season, according to St. Hilaire, but is a player the team relies heavily on defensively so his time on offense has been limited.

That — along with a concussion suffered by Ward — opened the door for Jared Gosselin to get some extended time at right guard. He stepped in to start alongside Luke St. Hilaire at right tackle in a 30-13 win over Old Orchard Beach on Oct. 16.

On the season, Winthrop/Monmouth has rushed for 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns on 352 attempts, while Ingram has completed 49-of-104 passes for 717 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

When asked how the team has effectively moved players in and out of the lineup throughout the season yet still managed to successfully move the ball — for the most part — Ames had a straightforward solution.

“Plain and simple: Hard work,” he said. “Through the season we’ve built that brotherhood and we don’t want to let each other down at this point.”

At this point the Ramblers are as deep along the offensive line as they have been all season, and it could not have come at a better time. Winthrop/Monmouth will travel to take on two-time defending Class D champion Oak Hill (8-0) Saturday at 12:30 p.m. with a bid to the Class D South final on the line.

“They’re a vital part to our team — just as every line is — and I don’t think they get nearly enough credit as they should just because they don’t necessarily have the big stats and everything like that,” Scott said. “They’re out there working their butts off just like we are and it shows.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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