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No cheers for Largo's guys up front

Thanks to his stellar offensive line, Largo’s Marcel Durham picks up yardage in last week’s win over St. Petersburg. The line has sprung Durham for eight rushing TDs in the past two games.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

Thanks to his stellar offensive line, Largo’s Marcel Durham picks up yardage in last week’s win over St. Petersburg. The line has sprung Durham for eight rushing TDs in the past two games.

LARGO — Most spectators hardly pay Largo's Ryan McFarland any mind, and those who do wonder what he does.

"We're kind of anonymous," McFarland said.

Few zero in as the Packers' Alex Rodriguez, his socks drooping to his ankles, jersey stretched tight over his waist, walks to the line of scrimmage and briefly gets in the way of the defense before falling to the ground and getting back up.

"We just don't get much attention for what we do," Rodriguez said. "But we understand that's part of the game."

Certainly no one notices when Largo's Austin Jenquine comes off the field and plops down on the bench, steam curling around him like smoke from a barbecue pit.

"We're the forgotten guys," Jenquine said.

The Packers' offensive linemen do the thankless work in the trenches, trying to outhit and outwit opponents. Their life is all work, all effort, all pain.

And no credit.

That goes to the running back who breaks a big play or the quarterback who throws the touchdown.

But make no mistake: Largo would not go far without its line.

The Packers already have gone far and will host Punta Gorda Charlotte in Friday's Class 5A region finals. It is the third time in the past four seasons Largo has made it to this stage in the playoffs.

"Our line has to get a lot of credit for what we've been able to do," coach Rick Rodriguez said. "They help keep everything together."

After all, Largo's offensive linemen know more about what's happening on the field than anyone in uniform other than the quarterback. In the seconds before the snap, linemen must decipher coverages, blitz packages and fronts to call the proper blocking assignments.

"There's a lot involved," lineman Stefan Konjanovski said.

This invisible yet essential offensive component paved the way for Brynn Harvey to power for a county-record 2,581 yards last season.

Harvey has since graduated, but the blockers are still doing their job, clearing a path for Marcel Durham to rush for eight touchdowns in the past two playoff games.

"The big thing we dream about is a pancake block," McFarland said. "We usually get about 3-4 a game."

But that's not the only fantasy for these linemen.

"We'd love to get the ball just once," lineman Jeremy Redding said. "Maybe even score a touchdown."

Rodriguez isn't quite ready to grant that request.

"We might let them get a carry — in practice," Rodriguez said.

FAST FACTS

Region final

Game Friday at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $7.

Class 5A: Charlotte at Largo

No cheers for Largo's guys up front 12/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 5, 2008 8:34pm]
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