Offensive line combination builds strong foundation for Shaler Area
Thursday, September 5, 2019 | 5:43 PM
Shaler Area coach Jim Ryan received a call from a few of his assistant during an early portion of training camp. They felt a solution to how to assemble the Titans’ offensive line was available.
Shaler had two returning starters — Nevin Summerfield and Austin McKaveney — and a lot of prospects.
Inserting Zach Summerfield, who had experience from last season, along with Alex Klingensmith and Brandon Schweinberg has made the Titans a formidable unit.
In its Northern Conference opener against Kiski Area, Shaler’s line paved the way for Jake Miller to rush for 135 yards in a 23-6 victory.
Results from Shaler’s game against Hampton last Friday were too late for this edition.
“We started with a different mixture of guys,” Ryan said. “Something wasn’t clicking. We weren’t sure what it was. After the second or third day of camp, I got a phone call from the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. They said we think we have something to work with.”
McKaveney believes the chemistry between this group started last year. Working together in a year-round lifting program helped grow a relationship.
McKaveney said Nevin Summerfield is the strongest of the group.
“It started my junior year,” said McKaveney about when he got into weight lifting. “Coach Ryan drilled it in our heads that we needed to take weight lifting seriously. We’ve been taking it seriously, lifting hard. Even working out in January and all throughout the year will translate to the field.”
Shaler’s offense has found a lot of success behind its line. In a season-opening loss to New Castle, the Titans fell behind 21-6 at the half before being nipped 34-27.
“We have a big offensive line,” Ryan said. “We didn’t fire off the ball the way we wanted to against New Castle. They need to get off the ball, move people off the ball and keep it as physical as possible.”
Chemistry brings the group together, but what helps make the line successful is how they communicate. When things go wrong, McKaveney said they work well together to fix the problems.
“I’d say it’s the chemistry between us,” he said. “We are all close, and we have each other’s backs. If someone doesn’t know a play, you have to let them know. You execute the play the best you can.”
Opening with a win in conference is important for Shaler. The Titans are hoping to earn a second straight playoff bid.
“It’s a momentum thing for sure,” Ryan said about the win over Kiski. “It’s a confidence-builder. It reinforces the work and the talent that we have. Again, it’s one of those things. You get the momentum. The guys are working hard and continue doing what we do: strive to be great and get the win.”