The Dover High School offensive line has been nothing less than superb this season.
The unit has done a great job of opening holes for the run game and allowing the Tornado quarterback Mason Mamarella to pass and run the football as well.
And it’s going to take another stellar effort when Dover battles Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in a Division III state semifinal clash at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon on Saturday night.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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Mamarella knows how important the line is to the success of the Dover offense.
“I have to give so much credit to them,” said Mamarella. “They’ve done a great job of run-blocking and pass-protecting. I can’t think of one game where there has been great pressure on me. They’ve had my back all year.”
Junior left tackle Brady Foust (6-foot-4, 240 pounds), senior left guard Zane Gardner (6-1, 185), senior center Mason Casto (6-2, 270), senior right guard Jack Birtcher (6-1, 180) and junior right tackle Josh Cercone (6-2, 220) comprise the starting unit.
Seniors Pierce Holt (6-1, 285) and Chase Weller (6-0, 180) are valuable substitutes.
The Dover line is responsible for the offense piling up 3,092 yards through the air and 2,442 on the ground for 5,514 yards in 13 games.
“We take a lot of pride in our play,” said Casto, who gets every play started by centering the ball to Mamarella in the shutgun formation. “I only had a couple of bad snaps.”
Gardner said two things have been evident in the unit’s play.
“Attitude and effort,” said Gardner. “That’s been a big thing for us.”
The Dover line is one that normally doesn’t beat itself with penalties like false starts and holding.
“We’re focused,” said Foust. “We work a lot of technique.”
Dover head coach Dan Ifft said the play of the line has been spectacular this season.
“They’ve had an outstanding year,” said Ifft. “He (Mason) drops back a lot and doesn’t been touched.”
“They’re going to see a lot of speed on the other side of the ball Saturday night,” said Ifft. “You can’t play offensive line in our package and be slow. They do a good job of moving their feet.”
The line is coached by Tim McCrate.
“Coach McCrate does a great job with them,” Ifft said. “They communicate with one another, and they make sure they know who’s blocking who. They’’ll actually come off the field and tell him what’s there and not there (to exploit).”
The unit wholeheartedly agreed with the communication aspect.
“Brady knows Zane has hit back and Jack has mine,” said Cercone. “When we’re going up against guys bigger than us, we have someone helping us out.”
The Dover offensive line will face a challenge from the Fighting Irish defense.
SVSM recorded six sacks in a 34-7 win over Chagrin Falls for the Region 9 championship last week.
Senior defensive end Eric Prologo (6-0, 195) and junior nose tackle Anthony Adkins (6-0, 205) had two each, and junior Travonte Junius (6-3, 185) and senior Mike Pruiett (5-10, 185) had one each.
“They’re a speed rush team,” said Foust. “We just have to keep our focus and play like we’ve been playing.”
They noted that they would like to see the season continue after Saturday night.
“It’s been fun, but it’s not over yet,” they all said as a unit.