Normally it's the skill players who reap the glory and get all the headlines and accolades, but when a team rushes for almost 450 yards and scores six touchdowns, the offensive line probably deserves some credit. Which is why this week's Player of the Week award goes to the entire Gilman offensive line.
The Greyhounds were pitted against Virginia's Oscar Smith High, which is usually a nationally-ranked contender. But Gilman had their way with them thanks to an opportunistic defense, several athletic playmakers and, of course, those big uglies up front.
"I'm really proud of what our line was able to do," said Gilman's left guard, Brian Gaia, who is committed to Penn State. "Besides me and Chibuzo [Ukandu], the rest of our line was a little smaller or about the same size as Oscar Smith's [defensive line]. But I wasn't worried. I worked all summer with these guys, so I knew we'd be ready."
So just who were "these guys" that Gaia referred to? Besides the 6-foot-4, 295-pound left guard, there's sophomore Chibuzo Ukandu (6-3, 255), junior Ned Emala (5-11, 225), senior Connor Webb (6-3, 225), senior Brandon Smith (5-10, 195) and a pair of tight ends in junior Henry Poggi (6-4, 255) and junior Micah Kiser (6-2, 215).
"I really think all the linemen work well together," Emala said. "We work hard in practice and we play as one unit. That's probably the main reason we have success."
On Friday against Oscar Smith, the primary beneficiaries of that line were athlete Cyrus Jones and quarterback Shane Cockerille. Jones rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns, while Cockerille added 247 yards and three more scores. Whether they took the ball between the tackles or broke to the outside, both Cockerille and Jones had plenty of room to run.
"The line was huge for us," Cockerille said. "They were pumped all week for Oscar Smith, and they came up big. They all executed their blocks and opened up huge lanes for us to run through."
Gilman took control almost immediately, scoring on each of their first three possessions. The Greyhounds' opening drive ended with a 41-yard Cockerille touchdown, the next a 10-yard Jones score and the final a 14-yard Jones reception where he got great downfield blocking.
"We knew we had to be physical and set the tone early," Gaia said. "And that's just what we did. The whole game we out-physicaled [Oscar Smith] and wore them down.
"Running the ball is what we do," he continued. "We expect to run the ball down people's throats."
The Greyhounds' line has been superb in each of their first two games (they helped Gilman defeat Maryland Christian, 69-8, two weeks ago), but their mettle will be tested this week. Gilman takes on the No. 1 team in Maryland, Good Counsel, which is fresh off a victory over Florida powerhouse Manatee. Good Counsel boasts a stellar defensive line led by Division-I ends Ryan Watson and Roderick Chungong (Georgia Tech).
"It's going to be a battle," Emala said. "But we'll be ready."
Top Performers (Offense):
Stefon Diggs, WR, Good Counsel: 6 receptions,132 yards, 2 TDs Brendan Marshall, QB, Good Counsel: 234 yards, 3 TDs Cyrus Jones, ATH, Gilman: over 200 total yards, 4 TDs Shane Cockerille, QB, Gilman: 247 rushing yards, 3 TDs; passing TD Charlie Jordan, RB, DeMatha: 202 yards, 2 TDs Tene Samuto, RB, Georgetown Prep: 182 yards, 4 TDs Ian Fisher, QB, Brunswick: 389 total yards, 3 TDs Blaine Price, WR, Brunswick: 11 receptions, 219 yards, TD Aaron Wells, RB, River Hill: 182 yards, 3 TDs Uriah Bethea, RB, Wise: 166 yards, 3 TDs Jackson Thornton, QB, Franklin: 197 yards, TD Ian Thomas, WR, Franklin: 140 total yards Robert Chesson, RB, Old Mill: 132 yards, TD Thomas Stuart, QB, Calvert Hall: 110 passing yards, TD; 35 rushing yards, TD C.J. Williams, RB, Calvert Hall: 130 total yards, 2 TDs Drexel Mosby, RB, Mount St. Joseph: About 100 yards, 2 TDs Luke Casey, QB, Mount St. Joseph: over 120 total yards AJ Bright, RB, Pallotti: 213 yards, 2 TDs, 30 yard TD catch Justin Mealy, ATH, Pallotti: over 150 total yards, 3 TDs Tyree Turner, QB, Meade: 189 yards, TD Calvinaugh Jones, RB, Meade: 136 yards, TD Erik Kerns, WR, Meade: 6 catches, 104 yards, TD Nate Lewnes, RB, St. Mary's: 180 yards Spencer Coyle, RB, St. Mary's: 164 yards, 2 TDS Michael Sheehan, QB, Clarksburg: 121 yards, TD Trevor Patton, RB, Damascus: 151 yards Mark Green, RB, Quince Orchard: 132 yards, TD David Smith, QB, Paint Branch: 161 yards, 3 TDs Val Djidotor, RB, Whitman: 135 yards, 3 TDs Curt Brooks, WR, Wootton: 137 yards, TD Chris Papadopoulos, QB, Wootton: 282 yards, 2 TDs Michael Flack, ATH, Whitman: 113 rushing yards Darius Victor, RB, Northwestern-PG: 147 yards, 3 TDs Tavon Young, WR, Potomac: over 100 total yards, TD Matty Callahan, QB, Northwest: 144 yards, 2 TDs Josh Gills, WR, Northwest: 7 receptions, 93 yards, 2 TDs James Jones-Williams, RB, Seneca Valley: 105 yards, 2 TDs Tanner Vallely, QB, Seneca Valley: 119 yards Mike Offutt, RB, Watkins Mill: 134 yards, TD Solomon Vault, RB, Gaithersburg: 197 yards TD, punt-return TD Lincoln Reyes, QB, Gaithersburg: 141 yards, 2 TDs Rachid Ibrahim, RB, Avalon: 114 yards, 2 TDs Curtis Kamara, RB, Churchill: 129 yards, 2 TDs Lansana Keita, QB, Churchill: 197 yards, 2 TDs Kevin Jones, RB, Bullis: 214 yards, 3 TDs Anthony Squire, RB, Suitland: 109 yards, 3 TDs Taivon Jacobs, WR, Suitland: 4 receptions, 95 yards Nyema Washington, QB, Suitland: 138 total yards, 2 TDs Joel Roberson, RB, Laurel: over 150 total yards, 3 TDs Jarvis McClam, QB, Laurel: over 100 total yards, 4 TDs Malik Harvin, WR, Laurel: over 100 total yards, 2 TDs Richie Anderson, RB, Thomas Johnson: 161 yards, TD Nico Johnson, ATH, Thomas Johnson: over 140 total yards, 2 TDs Edwin Walker, RB, Flowers: 102 yards, 3 TDs Shawn Petty, QB, Roosevelt: 170 yards, 2 TDs Tyrone TeMoney, WR, Roosevelt: 3 receptions,153 yards, 2 TDs Josh Houston, RB, Ryken: 121 yards, TD John Hetterman, QB, Fallston: over 140 yards, 3 TDs Josh McPhearson, RB, AACS: 213 yards, 2 TDs Joe Riddle, RB, Lingaore: 232 yards, 2 TDs Alex Breno, QB, South Carroll: 135 yards Ben Lewis, WR, Middletown: about 200 total yards, 2 TDs Mike Pritts, QB, Middletown: 134 yards, 2 TDs Nick Peifer, QB, St. John's Prep: 191 yards, 2 TDs Kendle Pitts, RB, Frederick: 116 yards, 3 TDs Matt Hynes, QB, Frederick: 101 yards, 2 TDs Jalen Gee, WR, Frederick: over 100 total yards, 3 TDs Jay Molnar, QB, Oakdale: 131 rushing yards, 76 passing yards, TD Cody Simmons, RB, MSD: 134 yards Juwan Singletary, RB, Bel Air: 107 yards, 3 TDs Kenny Faulcon, QB, Aberdeen: over 100 total yards, 3 TDs Jamil Lee, RB, Joppatowne: 170 yards, TD John Pace, QB, Joppatowne: over 100 yards, TD Montell Martin, ATH, John Carroll: over 100 total yards, 2 TDs Ryan Stinar, QB, North Harford: 309 yards, TD; rushing TD Brady Maguire, WR, North Harford: 4 receptions, 175 yards Josh Welsh, RB, North Harford: over 150 total yards, 3 TDs Ahmere Ware, RB, South Hagerstown: 113 yards, TD; interception return CJ Davis, ATH, South Hagerstown: over 100 total yards, TD Terin Kelsey, QB, North Carroll: 153 yards, 2 TDs Rahman Kamara, WR, Bladensburg: 5 receptions, 136 yards, TD Dequan Boatwright, QB, Bladensburg: 198 yards, TD Craig Oliver, QB, Patterson: 105 rushing yards, TD; over 70 yards passing, TD Matt Zelechowski, RB, Curley: about 100 yards, 2 TDs Jamal Robinson, QB, DeMatha: 164 yards, TD Jake Clise, QB, Loyola: over 100 yards passing, 2 TDs; 83 yards rushing, TD Cooper Hibbs, QB, Arundel: 274 yards, 6 TDs Mike Spahr, QB, Urbana: 144 yards, TD George Van Hove, RB, Urbana: 125 yards, TD Ryan Briner, RB, Fort Hill: 159 yards, 2 TDs Garrett Clay, FB, Fort Hill: 98 yards, 2 TDs Madison Wolford, RB, Allegany: 122 yards, 2 TDs Kurt Gangler, QB, Southern Garrett: 192 yards, TD Patrick Sines, QB, Northern Garrett: 159 yards Dan Strietbeck, QB, Mountain Ridge: 211 yards, TD Jarrod Harper, RB, Mountain Ridge: 122 yards, 2 TDs Anthony Spataro, WR, Mountain Ridge: over 100 total yards, 3 TDs Kevin Price, QB, Liberty: over 100 total yards, TD Nick Schaffer, RB, Century: 120 yards, 2 TDs Romie Cheese, QB, Westminster: 200 total yards, 5 TDs Brandon Cherry, RB, Boys' Latin: 121 yards DeAndre Lane, RB, Catonsville: over 100 total yards, 2 TDs Eddie Escobar, RB, Perryville: over 150 yards, 2 TDs Joe Peaker, RB, Perryville: 250 yards, 4 TDs Connor Cox, QB, South River: 213 yards, 3 TDs Lavon Chaney, RB, South River: 189 yards, TD Mike Strange, WR, South River: 10 receptions, 128 yards, 3 TDs Jameel Kirkland, QB, Forestville: 113 yards, TD; 50 yards rushing, TD Jake Meredith, RB, Queen Anne's: 108 yards, TD Andrew Harrison, RB, Easton: 121 yards, TD Devin Dieter, WR, Easton: 126 total yards, TD Kyle Boone, RB, Kent Island: 110 yards DJ Kee, RB, Decatur: over 150 total yards, 3 TDs Andy Madore, QB, Parkville: 134 yards, 2 TDs William Crest, QB, Dunbar: 100 total yards, TD Devonne Boone, QB, McDonough: 93 yards, 3 TDs David Jones, RB, McDonough: over 100 total yards, 3 TDs Davonte Fletcher, RB, Huntingtown: 227 yards, 3 TDs Dre Lewis, QB, Dulaney: over 100 yards, 3 TDs DJ Foster, RB, Dulaney: about 100 total yards, 3 TDs Joel Jorgensen, QB, McDonogh: over 100 yards, TD Mike DeBaugh, QB, Perry Hall: 163 yards, TD Dale Harris, RB, St. Paul's: 102 yards London Fitzhugh, WR, St. Paul's: 8 receptions, 102 yards Travez Lee, QB, Patuxent: 165 total yards, TD DJ Smith,RB, Spalding: 110 yards, TD Paul Harris, WR, Douglass-PG: 100 total yards, TD
*Note: It is possible, with hundreds and hundreds of names flying across the wire, that some offensive standout was overlooked. Also, defensive statistics are not included since a) some teams do not keep them and b) they aren't always reliable.