BANGOR — It was in the second half, and the game between the Bangor High School football team and Hillsboro was well decided with the Cardinals holding a 42-point lead.
But the big boys up front were still hungry.
They wanted another score to cap off their night.
So Bangor coach Rick Muellenberg dialed up a counter to the left which, meant 6-foot-5, 245 pound Grant Manke and 6-foot-6, 305 pound Michael Reed were pulling from their spots on the right side of the line.
Boy, did they eat. The Hillsboro defenders offered little resistance as Manke and Reed bulldozed over them to allow running back Zach Servais to go 17 yards untouched for the touchdown. It was a familiar scene throughout the night, as the fourth-ranked Cardinals (3-0, 1-0 Scenic Bluffs) offensive line put on a clinic in a 57-6 win.
“They move and work well within a unit,” Muellenberg said. “Yes, they are big, and they are quick, but they work well together. Our combo blocks tonight really stood out.”
The Cardinals torched the Tigers for 406 yards on just 31 carries. Sophomore Mathieu Oesterle finished with 94 yards on four carries, senior Carter Horstman added 93 and two touchdowns on five carries, while quarterback Hank Reader carried the ball seven times for 85 yards and a touchdown.
“We can’t give enough credit to the guys up front,” Reader said. “They do everything for us. Give such big holes for us backs, it’s awesome.”
Perhaps what was most impressive was their ability to not only drive their defenders back, but also their quickness, and agility to get to the next level. The ability to block the linebackers, the secondary. That’s part of the reason why they had touchdown runs of 50, 52, 28, and 17 against the Tigers on Friday night.
“Our offensive line, I love them a lot,” Reed said. “We have a lot of great lineman, Dylan (Knudtson), Sam (Horstman), Ethan (Hemmersbach), they can all get the job done. They are really strong and quick. They always get up field, and I can easily rely on all of them.”
With the offensive-line doing its part, and with talented runners in Reader, Oesterle, and Horstman, the Bangor rushing attack has put up rushing totals of 405, 363, and 406 in the first three games. That’s good for an eye-popping average of 391 yards a game. Of course, Reader will be the first one to tell you those numbers wouldn’t be possible unless it was for that offensive line.
“It’s so hard to describe,” Reader said with a laugh when asked what is it like to run behind his line. “It’s so awesome, because you just have these two big dudes leading you, and it just feels like nobody can touch you.
“You just keep running fast and they will make blocks for you. Just keep going.”