Loss shows Maine East offensive line has room for improvement

CHICAGO — “Who? East! Who? East!” was the chant in the Maine East football team’s huddle before the Blue Demons took on Schurz in their first game of the season Saturday.

The team was led in its refrain by senior left guard George Corey. It could be said that Maine East’s offensive line, which features four returning seniors, is the heart of its team.

“If you talk to any level head coach anywhere, they’ll tell you, you win games with your offensive line,” Maine East coach Gabe Corey said.

This offseason the Blue Demons added a new line coach, Joe Tedeschi. Though Tedeschi is confident his unit has what it takes to be successful, after the Blue Demons’ 7-0 loss to Schurz, he said the line has to do better.

“We’ve got to be more physical and we’ve got to be better up front,” Tedeschi said.

The Blue Demons’ offensive line will continue to build on the work it did this offseason. Senior right tackle Kyree Brammer said the lineman spent time practicing footwork, lifting weights and improving their conditioning. He said members of the offensive line pushed one another to improve.

In addition to being more physical, Tedeschi emphasized the importance of communication between linemen. Left tackle Nick Pavlovic, a senior, said he thinks this is an area where his unit will excel.

“We’ve known each other so long,” he said. “We know each other’s tendencies.”

When they’re not playing, Pavlovic said the line, which also includes senior center Tom Bartzel and sophomore right guard Leo Acevedo, likes to spend time together off the field.

“We like to go out to eat together,” he said. “It’s what offensive linemen like to do — go out to eat.”

The Blue Demons had some bad luck early in Saturday’s game. Senior running back Munkh Bayer left with an injury during the team’s first possession and did not return.

Gabe Corey said that an X-ray this week should determine how long Bayer will be out.

Last season, the Blue Demons were plagued by injuries. They played several games without their first- and second-string quarterbacks, but Brammer said the line’s goal this season is to protect the Blue Demons’ quarterbacks.

Senior quarterback Steven Youel said he’s confident playing behind Brammer and the rest of the unit.

“I feel very safe, I have faith in my linemen,” he said. “In practice no one has gotten to me.”

That wasn’t completely the case on Saturday. After a string of completions on the Blue Demons’ final drive, Youel was sacked twice. Though the line gave him time on the Blue Demons’ fourth-down play, Youel threw an incomplete pass. The Bulldogs took over the ball on downs and went on to win the game.

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