Friday, Aug. 27, 1999
BY PETE HOLTERMANN
No one seems to want the credit for Lebanon's success.
Last year, the school set a record by rushing for more than 4,700 yards on the way to winning the Division II state title.
The running backs credit the offensive line. The line credits the backs.
But make no mistake about who feels the responsibility for getting the Warriors back to the championship game; senior guard Matt McCutchan. ''Last year, Matt was our best offensive lineman,'' said Lebanon coach Dave Brausch. ''But he had two seniors with him, and they were more vocal.''
This year, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound McCutchan will again lead on the field, but he's also been tabbed as captain for this season. He's not worried about any extra pressure, though.
''It does build some pressure, but I'll forget it by the time the first snap happens,'' he said.
Brausch said what sets McCutchan apart is his overall approach.
''He plays aggressively and intelligently at the same time,'' Brausch said.
McCutchan thinks he knows the secret of his success.
''I just play with a lot of heart and emotion,'' he said.
There is one tangible factor that has helped McCutchan, his athleticism. In addition to playing football in the fall, he plays basketball in the winter and competes in shot put during the spring track season.
''Playing other sports is real important,'' he said. ''(I) could just stay in the weight room and just lift all winter, but that wouldn't help me stay in condition. Playing other sports helps to make me a better athlete.''
That philosophy is at work with the rest of the line as well. Tackle and defensive standout Jordan Hicks (6-5, 245) joined McCutchan on the junior varsity basketball team last year, while left guard Ty Alexander (6-6, 245) played on the varsity basketball team. Also returning to the offensive line this season is guard Josh Eldridge (6-1, 225), and he doubles as the team's kicker.
The line will be charged with creating holes for Nick Singleton (5-10, 170) and Justin Runyan (5-11, 170), both of whom were a part of last year's record season.
McCutchan feels it is the sum of that line as a unit that will equal success for the Warriors.
"Not every team has four real good linemen," he said. ''But we do.
''We're all real competitive with each other, and we try to beat each other out in different areas. That makes each person better.''
The collective abilities of the offensive line will also make the entire Lebanon team better as the Warriors set out for a repeat.