Catholic cathedral offensive line a pancake machine
Training had yet to begin for Cathedral Catholic, but running back Lucky Sutton was already being dragged in different directions by the media. Sutton took to the runway for a TV interview.
Then he was summoned to the bench for a word with the print media.
In the aftermath of his 480-yard, seven-TD performance in the Dons’ 71-62 Southern California Regional playoff win last Friday, Sutton wanted to clarify one thing.
âWithout my offensive line, there wouldn’t be a Lucky Sutton,â he said.
At 8 p.m. today at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, the Dons (11-2) will aim for their third state title when they face Folsom (11-3) in the 1-AA State Championship.
If Sutton unlocks another big game (he ran for 898 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in three playoff games), Cathedral’s chances of lifting a trophy improve dramatically.
In a team that is averaging 40.2 points per game, head coach Sean Doyle summed up his offensive line play in two words: âThey are exceptional.
Doyle added, âAny coach would tell you this: football starts up front. I tell them before each match, during pre-match warm-ups, the match will be won in the trenches. It starts with them.
Football’s most famous offensive line has arguably been dubbed “The Hogs,” the unit that stranded the Washington Redskins in the 1980s and 1990s, winning three Super Bowls.
The “Hogs” were so popular that they inspired a male fan club dubbed “The Hogettes,” which dressed in old ladies’ trails (broad-brimmed dresses and hats), with plastic pork muzzles.
Cathedral’s offensive line goes by the nickname âThe Slimy Hogsâ.
âWe’re playing gooey and we’re all pigs,â said tight end Maxwell Bayles, accepted as an offensive lineman due to his run-blocking prowess. âWe put people in the mud. “
The Cathedral unit is near. They break the chops while watching a movie on Saturday morning, then celebrate over breakfast at IHOP, where the preferred order is, of course, pancakes. When linemen hit an opposing defender flat on the back, it is called a âpancakeâ block.
“I feel like it’s essential,” Dons forward Isaac O’Rourke said of the Saturday morning breakfast order. âAfter the pancake blocks on Friday night, you need to restock your pancakes. “
From left to right, the Dons’ starting offensive line looks like this – left tackle Erik Cole (6-4, 222 lbs), left guard Louie Lauifi-Tufaga (5-10, 280), center Tavita Letuli (6-1, 350), right guard Preston Lauifi-Tufaga (5-9, 260) and right tackle Rambo Mageo (6-5, 295).
Louie and Preston are twins. Louie has 40 minutes more.
Regarding the long delay between childbirth, Louie said, “My mom has stayed strong.”
O’Rourke (6-4, 340) and Maximo Mendez (5-11, 230) are substitutes who play important snaps, as are Bayles (6-3, 205). All but Bayles are old people.
The seven linemen have nicknames. Cole goes by “Slimy”. Louie Lauifi-Tufaga is “Pumpkin” because he wears an orange shirt every Wednesday. Letuli is USO. Preston Lauifi-Tufaga’s name is Pappa P. Mageo is âRambeezyâ, O’Rourke is âSackâ (short for Isaac) and Mendez responds to âMaximomâ.
At 222 pounds, Cole is the smallest of the bunch. Sometimes opponents stare at Cole, examine his more physically larger teammates, and try to get under his skin.
“Oh, you’re the little one,” the opponents will dig.
With Cathedral suspended 71 points over Orange Lutheran, Cole hit back at the Lancers who mocked his height. Four of Sutton’s TD runs were 62 yards or more, which prompted Cole to say with snark, “Looks like he’s gone again.”
Given the choice of either stroke blocking or pass protection, offensive linemen will choose stroke blocking every time. They shoot on tracks, plow and, if they demand their will, knock down the defenders on the grass. On pass protection, they’re in retreat mode, protecting quarterback defenders.
Cathedral directs a Wing T oriented on the ground. According to maxpreps.com, the Dons have called 350 racing games with 161 assists. Translated, the “Slimy Hogs” hit a lot of people on their keisters.
âOne thing our offensive line has always been known for is finishing,â said Doyle, now in his 26th season as Cathedral head coach.
âWe try to teach that it’s not about blocking, it’s about completing blocks. If that means ending up to the ground, that’s it. We’re trying to lock down and move guys.
Just as Sutton raves about his linemen, his blockers pounce on the running back who has scored 40 touchdowns this season.
âIf you’ve got a great guy like him behind you, it makes you want to work hard for him,â Mendez said. âHe can do all of these amazing things. We want to help him in any way we can.
Norcross is a freelance writer.