Hammond plays power football


October 13, 1992|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

The question, "Where's the beef?" is something Hammond senior offensive lineman Danny Boone had no trouble answering in the off-season.

Boosted by a regimen of six daily meals -- including three steaks -- the 6-foot-1 Boone bulked up to 275 pounds from 255. His weight and increased strength are part of an offensive line that is considered Howard County's biggest and most intimidating.

Two other seniors, right guard Kwame Crawford (6-0, 280) and left guard Lars Unhjem (6-3, 235), form the core of the line along with Boone. They open holes for backs Erin Woodward and Tim Spruill, and protect quarterbacks Rudy Cooper and Greg Seward. The Golden Bears are 4-2 overall, 2-1 in county play.

Mount Hebron coach Mark Cates discovered the strength of Hammond's offensive line when his team was beaten, 38-0, Oct. 3. In the rout, Hammond rushed for 298 yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't expect the domination from their offensive line," Cates said. "They're big and strong. They have a combination of a good offensive line and some backs that hit the holes really hard."

There's nothing fancy in the Golden Bears' offensive scheme. Coach Joe Russo emphasizes a "power" offense, or a line that blocks straight ahead. Only one play, the "Wham," requires a set double team. Therefore, the size of Boone, Crawford and Unhjem comes in handy with one-on-one blocking.

Through six games, Hammond, which runs 60 percent of the time, has averaged 165 yards rushing and the line has yielded just two sacks. Woodward is the team's leading rusher with 505 yards and two touchdowns.

"We're not really deceptive and we don't mind [opponents] knowing that the ball's coming off tackle," Boone said. "If we can drive them five yards back, then that's a victory in itself. If you're hitting five yards a play, then that can lead to a touchdown."

Boone describes the line, which also features center Pedro Barbosa and tackle Darin Brinkman, as a "bond." In approaching the line of scrimmage with the defensive alignment becoming clear, the players will tell each other -- out loud -- who'll they'll block.

Barbosa and Brinkman are no slouches, either, weighing 275 and 225 pounds, respectively. "Communication is essential," Unhjem said. "It matters that we take the right person and not end up on a double team so then somebody will be left open. We're not worried about the other team knowing who we take, we just want to know for ourselves."

"It seems like we're having a long conversation, but it goes real fast," said Crawford, who can bench press 360 pounds.

The Golden Bears certainly aren't shy about repetition. In the third game this season against Atholton, they used the same running play, the 33 lead, eight straight times. It resulted in an 80-yard touchdown drive.

"It depends on what's working for us that day," Boone said. "We'll say, 'It worked once for eight yards, let's try to get 10 or 12 yards on the next play.' "

With the line so large, it helps that Woodward (5-7, 180) and Spruill (5-9, 150) are relatively small backs. They can hide behind their bigger teammates and squirt through a hole.

Boone is the most sought after of Hammond's offensive linemen. He has received letters from a host of Division I programs, including North Carolina State and Penn State, which he has already visited. According to Russo, Unhjem, a National Honor Society student, would like to play at schools such as Navy, Princeton, Dartmouth and Columbia.

In addition to blocking, Boone makes an impact when he lines up as a running back. Against Mount Hebron, he ran for an 18-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion, and he bulled 1 yard for a score in Saturday's 15-14 loss to Howard.

For the Golden Bears to reach the playoffs, Cooper feels most of the weight rests on the offensive line's huge shoulders.

"They protect me and they give excellent holes to the running backs, so they do the whole job," Cooper said. "They have to do well for us to go far. It's a must."

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