ZACHARY - The Zachary High offense has been a work in progress this season, but a veteran offensive line has been a stabilizing force.
After struggling to produce two halves of productive football early in the season, the offense has hit its stride.
The Broncos (9-2), seeded sixth in the LHSAA Class 5A playoffs, head into Friday night’s second-round contest at No. 22 Hahnville (6-5) having averaged 44 points in its past six games.
For Zachary, which is looking to defend the Class 5A state title, the offensive surge started with senior leadership on the line.
Right tackle Caleb Johnson and right guard Trelon Harris have been playing together at the same positions on the same side of the line since middle school. They’ve learned each other’s tendencies and know what it takes to be successful together.
“I feel like we still play physical,” Johnson said. “We still get off the ball and we still help each other get better. We’re like brothers. If one person fails, we all fail so we work together as a team.”
A more recent addition has been right guard Kolby Matthews, who transferred to Zachary before last season. Matthews has cemented himself as a starter and talks about the bond shared by his teammates on the offensive line that also includes Tre White and Dylan Landry.
“It’s about playing physical and knowing your brother’s got your back,” Matthews said. “I play on one side of him, and I know he’s got my back. I can trust him on anything. We’ve got a bond and a brotherhood.”
Part of that brotherhood is understanding that if they do their job well, players like quarterback Keilon Brown or wide receiver Chandler Whitfield will get recognition for having big games. And, that’s just what the linemen want.
“It’s our job is to make (skill players) look pretty,” said Harris, who repeated himself for emphasis. “That’s our job.”
Zachary offensive line coach Jason Davis described his players as unsung heroes.
“They do all the work that all the skill players do, and they never get the same accolades. But they find accolades themselves. They find that brotherhood is worth more than awards, or having your name called over the intercom, or having your name in the paper. They find the brotherhood more important than that.”
The brotherhood is also about finding strength among themselves even during a game when the crowd makes noise.
“We don’t get mentioned as much as defense, but we prove our place on this team when we hit the field,” Johnson said. “Even when the crowd cheers, you hear ‘Defense. Defense.’ You never hear ‘Offense. Offense.’ So, we just trust each other and try to put points on the board.”
According to Davis, the line not only trusts each other, they also speak for each other at times. Davis credits them for not only being supportive, but also critical if it is warranted. It is the hallmark of players who are close to each other.
“Sometimes they coach each other before I even get to them,” Davis said. “The other day, one of them called the other out on a certain step that he took and said, ‘That’s not going to get it done.’ Before I had made a comment, it had already been caught.”
Mixed in with closeness the linemen have is another important factor – experience. All have been with Zachary through multiple deep playoff runs, and they all know the playoff tradition the Broncos have developed.
“When we go through summer workouts and boot camp, they understand this is what it’s all about,” Davis said. “They’ve been through it twice before and they’ve seen how it goes. They understand it’s expected for us to be practicing in week 11, 12, 13 14… but you’ve got to go out and produce on Friday for that to continue to happen.”