CHS FOOTBALL: On the front line

The Clovis offensive line has allowed only one sack this season, allowing quarterback Devin Sweet to pass for 845 yards and 9 touchdowns. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

They’re big. They’re strong. They’re goofy.

The Clovis offensive line has been pushing opponents around and cracking each other up while helping the team to a 10-1 record this season.

“I can’t say we’re the best line in the state,” Clovis senior Kendall Richards said, “Coach (Eric) Roanhaus would whip us.”

Richards, one of the largest Wildcats at 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds, along with Aaron Simon, Mel Grassel, Chase Denton and Miguel Zamora are the engine that powers the Clovis rushing attack. Throw in tight ends Michael Lewis and Chris Finch and the Wildcats average 6-3 and 250 pounds across the line.

“They do a good job coming off the ball,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “If they come off the ball and stay on path, there’s not much you can do to stop them.”

Junior Brian Mead is the main beneficiary of the line’s punishing work, with 1,537 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Senior Tanner Fickling adds 736 yards and eight scores.

The Wildcats, who host Manzano (6-5) Friday in a second-round Class 5A playoff game, are averaging 30 points a game.

“We have to be able to run the ball to win,” Kelley said. “And they’ve done a great job of helping us get the ball down the field.”

The line has done a pretty decent job pass blocking too, allowing one sack all year.

Simon took the blame for the lone blemish, and said his linemates have not let him forget it.

“Only sack of the season Simon, good job,” Richards said doing his best Roanhaus impression.

Grassel said the goals from here on out are two-fold; not to allow another sack, and to give the backfield 200 yards per game.

When asked which of the group is the best, there was some initial hand raising and some finger pointing, but Richards got the group on the same page.

“Hey, say ‘We’re all one line,’” Richards said.

“We’re all one line,” they said in unison.

When asked who is the worst they again answered in unison, but with a different response.

“Zamora,” they all said, laughing.

“Man, that’s horrible, ya’ll are horrible,” Zamora said.
Though they are all cut-ups, Denton is the biggest class clown, always joking, goofing off, according to his teammates.

“He keeps everybody happy,” Finch said. “When we’re down and we’re getting ripped, he’s the one to crack a joke and make us laugh.”

They joke and laugh in the locker room, but in the weight room and on the practice field they are hard workers, Kelley said.

“When we get on them, it’s for small stuff that most people probably don’t see,” Kelly said.