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Morris linemen a driving force

The refrigerator doesn’t exactly fill up with press clippings when you’re an offensive lineman, even after a 28-21 win over Rochelle on the road.

Sometimes, they say, it’s because it’s not a glorious position, but that’s not necessarily true. The reality is probably steeped in the fact that there aren’t many true measurables for a lineman. After all, when the hog-mollies up front get the job done, somebody else scores the touchdown.

However, at Morris, the Redskins have a tradition of awarding helmet stickers to everyone on the field during a touchdown. As three-year starters, Morris seniors Preston Miracle and Craig Claire have built an extensive collection of helmet art. It’s something they can be pretty proud of.

“We’ve got so many talented backs and we’re able to give defenses a lot of looks, but it all starts up front with that line, specifically those guys,” Morris head coach Alan Thorson said of Miracle and Claire earlier this fall. “They’re both three-year starters and that’s not something Morris has done very often in the past, so you know they’re both special players.”

On the ground, Claire and Miracle have helped pave the way for a rushing attack that averages just over 254 yards per game and features three backs (Collin Grogan, Jeff Perry, and Reese Sobol) who all have amassed over 300 yards rushing on the year and are averaging over 7.5 yards per carry.

Sobol leads the team in rushing with 656 yards on just 69 carries, good for 9.5 yards per attempt. He’s also found paydirt nine times this year, including four times last week against DeKalb during a 253 yard performance that led Morris to a 56-27 rout of the Barbs.

“Our line has been fantastic all year,” Sobol said after a two touchdown performance against Yorkville in Week Five. “Our backs get a lot of credit, but those guys are out there busting their tail.

“At times there were some enormous holes and on those sweeps there were just walls of lineman I was running behind.”

While the Redskins offense has been heavily dependent on the rushing attack, Miracle, Claire and the rest of the big uglies have also given first-year quarterback Zach Cinnamon the time to complete nearly 57 percent of his passes on the season as well.

And, Miracle and Claire’s value aren’t exclusive to the offensive side of the ball. The pair have also both logged critical snaps on the defensive line at tackle, logging 33 tackles between the two of them on the season, while playing at a grueling pace on both sides of the ball.

All in all, having a pair of three-year starters and leaders on the offensive line has been a real blessing for Thorson and the Morris Redskins. The long careers of both Preston Miracle and Craig Claire have cemented the Redskins’ dominance of the trenches.

But, it’s safe to say, with a conference title matchup against Kaneland and the IHSA state playoffs looming, both of these interior stalwarts hope their long careers will last at least a little bit longer.

Thanksgiving in Champaign would be nice.

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