LINDALE — A key matchup in tonight’s showdown between state-ranked teams will be in the trenches, where No. 1 Chapel Hill’s defensive line usually dominates.
On the other side of the ball is No. 8 Lindale’s offensive line, a behemoth that is no doubt one of the best units in the state.
Left tackle Micah Simmons, left guard Sam Schomp, center Trey Eschberger, right guard Antonio Romo and right tackle Matt Foote might be Chapel Hill’s biggest challenge so far. That’s because this fab five is where everything starts for Lindale — and where everything ends for opponents.
“They do what it takes to be good,” Eagles offensive line coach Robert Black said. “They are a unit that plays for each other. They all want to play college ball. They want to be good.”
Simmons and Schomp get the most attention and have the size to play at the next level, listed at 6-4, 280 and 6-4, 305, respectively. The other three are big enough to flatten defensive lineman as well; Eschberger is 6-1, 225, Romo is 6-2, 340 and Foote is 6-0, 240.
“We’re a senior line, so we’ve been through it together for five years since junior high,” Simmons said. “We just know what it takes and we know we have to go out there and dominate. We have to work together well as a team and get it rolling.”
Added Schomp: “We’re really close. It’s been the same guys all the way up and we just like playing together.”
On the season, the line has helped the Eagles rush for 1,176 yards and average 461.8 yards of total offense per game. One of their primary objectives is to protect quarterback Clay Price, who has rushed for 426 yards and seven touchdowns and passed for 671 yards and three scores.
“They’re obviously huge,” Price said. “I feel very confident knowing that they can block anybody we’re going to play. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast and I trust them because I’ve known them my whole life.”
Much like any close group, the line can be broken down into individual personalities. Foote and Schomp are considered the jokesters, while Simmons, Romo and Eschberger tend to be more serious.
Justin Young, a 6-2, 270-pound sophomore, has also contributed on the line.
“Being able to run the ball and control it is a big deal,” Lindale head coach Mike Meador said. “We are going to get some yards and run the football. I don’t know if we’ve had that in the past and I don’t know if we’ve felt that way. We’ve always felt like we’ve had a decent line but now we feel like we can dominate.”
Tonight, the line will face one of its most difficult tests of the season shortly after Chapel Hill arrives at Eagle Stadium. The Bulldogs defensive line consists of Colton Moorehead, Sir Calvin Wallace (who hasn’t played this season because of injured), Kendall Beal and Brandoyn Bell.
“Their offensive line is as big an offensive line as we’ll see all year. They’re a senior bunch. They’ve been playing together for a while, so they know the run schemes really well and they know the pass schemes well,” Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton said. “They just to a good job of moving people up front. They’re great pullers, they’re great on the screen game and they’re great in pass protection too.”
Chapel Hill beat Lindale 41-17 en route to the Class 3A Division I final last season.
“They are really fast and they are physical,” Schomp said. “We didn’t really play our best game last year so we know we have to come out quick and focused. We just have to play like we know how to.”
Said Simmons: “It’s a big game and a huge stage. We just have to go out there and do our jobs and if we can do that, we will be successful.”