Polo’s offensive line is not packed with the biggest players in football.
But what the Marcos have has been working, with an unblemished record and a chance on Friday to claim the 8-man football state championship.
“We’ve had it clicking all year,” junior guard Cole Faivre said. “We’ve had a couple of mistakes here and there, but I think for the most part, you look at us, we don’t look like a real intimidating bunch – but I think we have the best line in the state for an 8-man [team]. We communicate well, we’ve got good teamwork. We’re strong and we’re tough.”
Brady Clark, the 215-pound junior center, stands between two other juniors on the line, Faivre and the 180-pound guard Julian Warczak. Clark sees Faivre as strong and Warczak as quick.
“[Faivre] is 195, but he can move big guys that are 250,” Clark said. “Size doesn’t really matter for him. [Warczak can] beat the big guys off the ball.”
Clark was starting at guard last year when Polo played 11-man football. He was surrounded by seniors on the line then, players like A.J. Williams, Draven Wells and Casey Thacker. That line was somewhat undersized in the middle, though had a bit more size at the tackles with the 280-pound Williams and 230-pound freshman Cooper Blake.
In 8-man football, the tackle position doesn’t exist, and Polo’s speed has played a big role up front.
“We get off the ball really fast,” Faivre said. “We’ve been pretty much smaller than every line we’ve gone up against. We move the ball really well. I think our toughness is really there.”
Not even the adjustment this year to playing 8-man football has slowed the Marcos, who have been able to utilize tight ends Kahlil Sankey and Joey Bardell in blocking schemes as well.
“Personally, I don’t see a difference other than there’s one less guy, but there’s one less guy on the other side,” Warczak said. “It’s almost the same thing.”
Another major factor has been their football IQ.
“The key’s been they know where to go,” Marcos coach Jeff Bumsted said. “That’s been the biggest thing. If you know where to go, you go fast – and we’re trying to play fast. We’re using the angles, and we’re pulling guys once in a while, so our kids are coming off the ball first and getting into people and just driving their feet, good technique. It’s been a really good group of kids to coach in the linemen. Coach [Cliff] Bardell’s done a great job with them. They just do everything we ask of them, and we couldn’t ask for more.”
The beneficiary of a lot of that work from the offensive line has been Marcos quarterback Tucker Mumford, who said he sees the line’s success coming from “always wanting to beat the guy across from them, double-teams, chipping to the ‘backers, always wanting to get to the next guy, and helping out the guys in the backfield.”