Player’s injury forces Hickman offensive line to lead

Thursday, September 11, 2008 | 9:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The offensive line has never been a position that garners much attention. From the stands, line play often looks like a jumble of bodies in close quarters.
Not being noticed can make it difficult for offensive linemen to take on leadership roles, and for the Hickman football team, this barrier is one they are being forced to overcome. 
After senior wide receiver Chase McMichael’s clavicle was injured in week one, senior linemen Evan Conrad, Nate Meyer and Josh Harvey became the only three remaining seniors on offense to have started last year. 
Because of the way Hickman’s offensive linemen approach the game, transforming into leaders has proven difficult. While McMichael was an outspoken presence on the field, Harvey says the three linemen are much more reserved.
“I know Chase (McMichael) was real vocal about everything,” Harvey said. “I’m not vocal at all. I’m a lead-by-example guy.” 
Hearing that all three aren’t very vocal leaders is surprising considering how they carry themselves off the field. Conrad and Harvey aren’t the least bit shy about speaking their minds. On the field, though, Conrad just doesn’t see himself being so outspoken.
“Offensive linemen, wherever you are, aren’t going to be very ‘rah-rah,’” Conrad said. “They’re not the ones getting everybody pumped up like that.”
While Kewpies coach Jason Wright knows that his linemen aren’t the most vocal, he also knows that the team needs their leadership however they can get it. Wright thinks this is an area where his team has been lacking through its first two games of the season.
“We’ve got to get more leadership from those guys because they’re going to take us as far as we can go,” Wright said. “You don’t have to be vocal to lead, but your play has to lead for you. To me, the way guys lead is they start making plays.”
Individually, all three have the talent to make the plays their coach is looking for. 
Harvey resembles an NFL lineman to his coaches with his 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound frame and exceptionally quick feet.
While Conrad isn’t much smaller at 6 feet 3 inches, 305 pounds, his play is defined by his notorious mean streak and passion for the game .
“Conrad is one of the most angry people I’ve ever seen between the white lines,” Meyer said.
Meyer is the smallest of the three at only 5 feet 10 inches tall, but his quickness allows him to get up the field to block linebackers and defensive backs. 
Wright acknowledges that while their individual skills are exceptional, a different problem has emerged through the team’s first two games for the offensive line.
“I’m disappointed because I don’t think we’ve played well as a unit,” Wright said. “That’s certainly something we’ve addressed.” 
Despite a 16-12 victory last week over Vashon, Wright’s linemen agree about their performance.
“I think in both games, collectively, we didn’t play well,” Conrad said.
Wright continues to stress that despite the difficulties of leading as an offensive lineman, his seniors are going to be the crucial piece in allowing Hickman’s spread offense to be successful for the rest of the season. 
“Fair or unfair, you’ve got to have an offensive line,” Wright said. “Everything goes through an offensive line.”

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