Nov. 23—SHORT GAP, W.Va. — When Frankfort head coach Kevin Whiteman discussed his offensive line during the preseason, he admitted they had a long way to go.
"I'm confident that they're going to come on strong," he predicted. He was right.
Since falling to Mountain Ridge, Frankfort is averaging 309 yards rushing during its six-game winning streak, the latest a 41-6 rout of No. 4 Scott in the state quarterfinals.
In that matchup, Frankfort racked up 349 yards and five touchdowns on 46 carries, with Luke Robinette and Tyrique Powell both going over 100 yards behind an offensive line that pushed a 10-1 Scott team around.
Frankfort's line is a testament that you can improve anything if you have the desire. If you work hard enough, you will.
"What they do is work hard every day in practice," Whiteman said of his offensive line. "Coach (Jimmy) Jones and Coach (Bob) Hamilton do a great job working with our line. They teach them well. The kids are physical and play hard."
Frankfort's line of senior Chase Snyder (left tackle), sophomore Daniel Marley (left guard), junior Matthew Jackson (center), sophomore Caden Whitacre (right guard), sophomore Lane Lease (right tackle) and sophomore Bryer Michaels (tight end) may not be the biggest bunch with an average weight of 203 pounds, but they get the job done, and then some.
Powell and Robinette had gaping holes to run through against Scott, and, with both scoring a pair of touchdowns, the duo joined fullback Parker VanMeter in making it three Falcons to score at least 10 touchdowns this season.
As Frankfort enters its biggest game in eight years, a home matchup with Herbert Hoover (9-2) in the state semifinals Saturday, its offensive line has morphed from a serviceable unit into a strength.
"They've come together as the year has gone on and they want to win," Whiteman said. "They've done a great job all year and have only gotten better. They've worked hard and come together and done a phenomenal job."
Yet, the effort of Frankfort's defensive line against Scott was as important, if not more.
If given time in the pocket, Scott quarterback Matt Frye will pick you apart. The junior gunslinger has posted eye-popping numbers of 2,542 passings yards and 33 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
Frye had little time to maneuver against Frankfort, frequently on the run from Snyder, a defensive end with nine sacks this year, and Powell, who lined up at nose tackle against the Skyhawks.
Big Hayden Nestor (6-foot-2, 315 pounds) and Lease ate up blocks at the tackle positions, freeing the speed guys to make plays in the running and passing game.
With the pocket collapsing, Frye threw a trio of interceptions to Robinette, Uriah Cutter and David Holsinger.
Scott had even worse luck in the run game, rushing for just 40 yards on 13 totes.
"They were phenomenal, they made a lot of big plays," Whiteman said of his defensive line. "They were flushing the quarterback out of the pocket and our defensive backs were running around like maniacs. They knocked down a ton of passes.
"We knew their quarterback was very good but I thought they did a great job. Coach (Craig) Scott and Coach (Paul) Kelly had a great game plan and the kids went out there and executed."
Frankfort now draws a stiff test in Herbert Hoover, which like Scott boasts a powerful offense that averages 43.4 points a night.
Undoubtedly, Frankfort will again rely on its offensive line to sustain drives, and its defensive line to make disruptive plays — a formula that has worked wonders over the past two months.
Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.