Knights' offensive linemen dominant
WHEELING — Cabell Midland's David Gaydosz and Lowell Farley have become the best rushing tandem in the state this season, compiling 3,793 yards total.
The two backs accomplish it in completely different ways — Gaydosz being a shifty runner who can cut on a dime and Farley who bulldozes ahead and gets big yards after contact.
Despite the difference in styles, there is one constant that has been the focal point of their success — the mammoth offensive line in front of them which has paved the way for the Knights to rush for 5,300 yards on the season.
"We couldn't really go anywhere if it wasn't for them. We're not Supermen," Farley said. "It's one of the best in the state, if not the best."
There are several individuals who key the offensive line's solid output for the Knights.
The unit's leader is right tackle Josh Baisden, who anchors the strong side for the unit and has been named First-Team all-MSAC in each of the past two seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Baisden has a pair of counterparts on the opposite side who also have become a force in sharing left tackle duties.
Coty Blankenship and Kurt Jones are both veteran blockers who have grown since Luke Salmons took over the program two years ago. They now platoon at left tackle to keep the offensive line fresh and moving in the right direction.
The leader between the tackles is left guard Cody Ballengee, a 6-foot-1, 255-pound kid that is responsible for pulling on many of the running plays and opening up holes.
Anytime Gaydosz gets free on the outside for a long run, it is usually Ballengee who is there paving the way with a key block.
Right guard Alex Chaffin has overcome mid-season injuries that kept him out of the lineup to be ready for this week's contest while sophomore center Zach Postin is also taking care of business and making sure the play gets off to a solid start for the Knights.
It's all part of a well-tuned machine up front that has churned out first downs consistently on the season.
"Going into this year, we returned four of the five starters," Salmons said. "They've all worked really hard — whether it was in the weight room since January or in practice - and we run six guys in there. They all can move, they're all athletic and they're all physical."
There aren't many better judges of offensive linemen than Salmons, a former Hunt Award winner (W.Va.'s best offensive lineman) at Ravenswood who went on to start at Marshall and lead some of the Thundering Herd's top offenses.
This week, the Knights will face a large task in the Martinsburg defense, who is led up front by defensive tackle Eugene German.
It will be a battle of the state's best in the trenches, and it's sure to be a fight for yardage.
If the Knights are to win the school's first state championship in football, they'll have to continue to do what they've consistently done all season to be 13-0 - keep pushing forward.