Sherando offensive line forms strong bond

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STEPHENS CITY — Every Wednesday evening during the football season, the Sherando offensive line isn’t hard to find.

The group of linemen, many who have played together for several years, have an offensive linemen meal at CiCi’s Pizza in Winchester, where they can talk, eat, laugh and maybe most importantly — bond.

“We just talk about the game and things like that,” Sherando center Matt Lowery said. “We get a few laughs in. It’s a little less serious than practice and games.”

The offensive linemen, left tackle Seth Wagner (6-foot, 220-pound senior), left guard Dante Tibbs (5-foot-10, 250-pound senior), Lowery (6-foot, 260-pound senior), right guard Madison Edmunds (5-foot-10, 220-pound senior), right tackle Christian Farris (6-foot-2, 310-pound junior) and tight end Tyler Hamilton (6-foot, 245-pound senior), function as one on the football field and are a big part of the reason the Warriors have rushed for more than 3,000 yards this season.

Lowery, Tibbs and Edmunds were all starters last season, and Lowery said they have a special bond together even in school.

“Even if we’re walking down the hallway or something, Dante is always on my left and Madison is always on my right [just like on the field],” Lowery said.

Edmunds said he’s played with some of his fellow linemen since middle school and that has helped make that bond even tighter.

“It’s just one of those things where nothing makes a stronger bond than competing together, and in the offseason working together non-stop in the weight room and on the track running sprints,” Edmunds said.

Sherando coach Bill Hall said the bond they have definitely helps the group out on the field.

“That’s the reason why they’re successful because they can communicate and speak the same language all the time,” Hall said. “If the only time you make adjustments is when they come over to me or [offensive line] coach [Tim] Farris, then we’re behind. They make adjustments while things are happening and that’s huge.”

Hall said the offensive line also has a great attitude. They understand their role and take great pride in what they do.

“We’ve hung our hat on our running backs and the success they’ve had and our passing game, so every Saturday watching film it’s nice to see the holes open up,” Wagner said. “We get a lot of glory from our teammates. We don’t need the spotlight. Being a lineman, you gotta be mean and not greedy with the spotlight.”

The Warriors will play Dinwiddie on Saturday in the Class 4A state final at Liberty University, and there’s no question the play of the offensive line will be key.

Hall said one thing that has helped throughout the season has been the fact that, with the exception of Hamilton, the rest of the line only plays on offense.

“That has been huge for us, and that’s by design,” Hall said. “Hamilton is the one that has to go both ways. I give him breaks on offense, but not on defense.”

The players said they are aware they may not be the biggest offensive line, but they understand that there’s more to being successful than how big you are.

“It doesn’t really matter [about] your size, it’s about your effort, your footwork,” Tibbs said. “You put all that together and you can overcome a 300-pound, 6-foot guy.”

The group is also very aware of the Sherando tradition, which has always been known for its offensive line play which has set up a strong running game.

“Sherando — we like to run the ball,” Farris said. “We love carrying that tradition of being a powerhouse running team and just running downhill, and just running it down the throats of all the other teams.”

This week will be yet another big challenge for the Warriors, including the offensive line. Dinwiddie has had a strong defense all season, and didn’t allow any points in the playoffs until two late touchdowns in a rout last weekend.

With the exception of Farris, all of the starting offensive line are seniors and the state final will be one last game for them to do what they love at the high school level.

“It’s an incredible feeling to know that all four years is about to pay off on Saturday,” Lowery said. “Knowing that’s where we’ve wanted to be all four years. Since freshman year we’ve all talked about it, we’re finally here and we’re finally ready to do it. It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd