The skill players on the General McLane football team have mad wheels, there’s no doubt about that. Watching any of those guys — like quarterback Ben Swank, or slot back Drew Astorino or running back Dan Skelton — tear down an open field with a crew of defensive backs huffing along behind them hasn’t been an uncommon sight on Friday nights in Edinboro.

This wicked speed in the backfield has helped the Lancers to a 10-0 record heading into Friday night’s District 10 championship game against Strong Vincent. And it also allowed McLane to average more than 44 points per game, pick up almost 3,900 yards on offense this season and average an astounding nine yards per play for the entire year.

These ridiculous numbers have earned a lot of acclaim for the likes of Swank, Astorino and Skelton. And, deservedly so. They’ve each got some great moves at the line of scrimmage and are really tough to catch in a foot race, making a lot of things happen for themselves.

However, those guys know probably better than anyone what really makes it all possible.

“It was all because of the line,” said Skelton after his team trounced Warren 61-14 in last week’s D-10 semifinal.

“They made the holes for the backs to run through.”

General McLane’s line consists of Ethan Polaski at center; guards Rob Stoner and Andy Wilson; Ben Rucker, Justin Hall and Steve Woods rotating at tackle and Shawn Walker at tight end. It’s those seven guys that enable the Lancers’ big-play backs to do what they do by cracking the hole at the line of scrimmage, clearing out the linebackers and roping off the running lane.

And the line is very good at it. Those statistics mentioned above are ample evidence of that.

Funny thing is, though, it’s not a particularly big crew. At least, by Triple-A standards it isn’t.

“We’ve got a lot of skinny, scrappy guys,” said Stoner who is the glaring exception at 6-foot-2, 290 pounds. “I’m the biggest guy out there. But they get after it, and they just love to run-block.”

The middle six are by no means tiny, with averaging 6-1, 215. But take away Stoner and the load lightens to 6-foot, 200 pounds.

“They’re not very big, but they’ve got a lot of heart,” said Stoner. “And they just love blocking for our guys.”

Heart, yes. But it also takes some brains to get the Lancers’ slippery option offense to run cleanly. And this squad very rarely goes backwards.

“We all know what we’re doing,” said Stoner. “And if we don’t know something, you can just ask somebody else on the line and they’ll know.”

The front line’s blocking ability seems to have become contagious. Now, the guys that once got kudos for running the ball are now getting noticed for when they don’t.

“The thing they do so well,” said Strong Vincent coach Tom Cacchione, “is the guys that don’t have the ball go out there and block for the guys that do. They all have pretty good speed, and they can bust it out. But when they aren’t carrying the ball, they are very disciplined blockers down the field.”

Running backs emulating the linemen. What’s the world coming too?

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