BENICIA HIGH’S OFFENSIVE LINE PUSHING OTHERS AROUND
Big guys getting some credit for Benicia’s 10-1 season
Quarterbacks and running backs have been known to take care of their offensive line.
For example, ex-Texans running back Arian Foster bought Segways for each of his offensive linemen, who helped him grab his third straight 1,000yard season in 2012. A year ago, Bills quarterback Josh Allen bought new iPads for his line. Rams quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley purchased Polaris Rangers for their offensive line last year.
At Benicia High School, the Panthers’ skill players appreciate their offensive line as well but the guys in the trenches are still waiting on that gift.
“Last year, after one of our games that we really wanted to win, our quarterback Kameron (Lane) said he was going to buy us ice cream,” said Benicia’s senior offensive lineman Seth Patterson, laughing. “That still hasn’t happened yet. We’re still looking forward to that, and we’re continuing to bully him until he’s going to make that happen.”
Even though the Panthers’ O-line might be craving Baskin Robbins, they’ve done their dining on most Friday evenings this season. Benicia is 10-1 heading into Saturday’s North Coast Section Division III semifinal at Rancho Cotate (8-3) in Rohnert Park.
The Panthers have been a consistent playoff participant in the last decade but the team has lagged behind opponents like Oakdale, Inderkum and Christian Brothers, programs that have boasted superior offensive lines.
“Football is their religion out there,” Benicia offensive line coach Mike Hurley said.
Hurley said one of the differences this year was getting players into the weight room more in the offseason.
“We’re trying to change the culture at Benicia and get them in there,” Hurley said. “A lot of kids play other sports, so it’s tough to corral them. But since we’ve been successful, the kids are excited and they’re going to do that more and more. … I think they’re going to hit the weight room.”
The O-line at Benicia has just two seniors who start — Patterson, who is a returner and plays left guard and Braeden Yee, who played defensive end a year ago. Yee said it was the first time in his life he had played O-line and said the most difficult aspect was learning all of the plays and the offensive schemes.
“Our defensive coordinator talked to me about it throughout the year, telling me it would help the team,” Yee said. “He told me that the team would benefit with me moving over to offense.”
Juniors Sebastian Maciel and P.J. Morgan also start on the line along with sophomore center Michael Pitta.
Patterson said the linemen worked hard together in the offseason to get ready for the season.
“It was really important for us to get a good start because the offensive line is where everything starts,” he said. “Without the blocking, there’s really no room for any running or passing. As far as preparing, we did spend a lot of time in the weight room over the summer, we came out for summer practices, went over our assignments and made sure we had everything down mentally as well as physically.”
Yee, the right tackle, said he takes a lot of pride in the offense running smoothly.
“I’m not sure how the other linemen feel but for me personally, I take a lot of pride in that,” he said. “I think the line overall should get more credit.”
Yee said the unit’s best game was likely against Sutter — Benicia’s lone defeat.
Patterson said that since the line is still fairly young, the seniors have tried to guide the others as far as preparation and execution.
leadership role as far as being a senior on the offensive line, especially when there is only two of us,” he said. “They look up to us, so it’s a matter of letting them know their responsibility on the plays if they don’t know it, giving them tips and techniques so they can beat their man.”
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Rancho Cotate’s record may not look as impressive as No. 3 Benicia’s but the No. 2-seeded Cougars suffered losses to Campolindo and Cardinal Newman, two opponents that have a combined record of 19-3.
Rancho Cotate also dispatched El Cerrito 35-0 in
the preseason. Benicia beat El Cerrito 34-14 a week ago in the North Coast Section playoff opener.
The Cougars did receive a scare from No. 7 Windsor before pulling out a 38-33 win in the first round last week.
“Windsor is not a bad team,” Benicia head coach Craig Holden said. “You get to the quarters of the playoffs and you have to face some good teams. Windsor is in Rancho’s league and they could have beat them but they threw an interception for a touchdown and (Rancho) got a scoop and score for a touchdown. Fourteen points in the
fourth quarter is a gamechanger.”
It might be a cliche but Holden said with two evenly matched teams, it could come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes.
“We’re probably going to have some penalties. Why? Because we’ve had penalties every game from the beginning of the year,” Holden said. “I hope that we don’t, but it’s just the way it is. Hopefully those penalties are not in key situations. We’ll see.”
The Benicia offensive line, from left, Braeden Yee, Michael Pitta, Seth Patterson, Derek Campbell, P.J. Morgan and Sebastian Maciel hope to lead the Panthers to victory in the semifinals of the North Coast Section playoffs.