The offensive line was an area of concern last year. That hasn't been the case this season.
Their numbers don’t show up in the stat sheet. Announcers rarely call their names. And they hardly ever get the glory for leading their team to a win.
When they do their jobs well, nobody notices them.
Who are they, exactly?
The offensive line — one of the the most underappreciated position groups in football.
For Flagler Palm Coast’s football program, however, the progress the offensive line has made from 2017 to 2018 has been astounding.
The Bulldogs went 9-0 in the regular season and won a district title in 2017 — head coach Travis Roland’s inaugural season. But, for the most part, they won games in spite of the offensive line, which was plagued by penalties. It was not unusual to see the Bulldogs’ offense face a third-and-20 or third-and-30 because of multiple holds or false starts.
And although the Bulldogs finished this season with a 7-3 regular season record and are limping into the postseason district championship-less, the offensive line, a group Roland called the “most tight-knit on the team,” is a unit for FPC fans to be proud of.
“Everybody holds each other accountable. If you jump offsides, I’ll smack you across the head. They expect that, and I expect the same for me.”
Senior left tackle Verneal Henshaw
With junior quarterback Donovan Montoyo still struggling with accuracy on his throws, the Bulldogs relied on a heavy dose of the run game. The offensive line — led by left tackle Verneal Henshaw, left guard Logan Sebag, center Devon Conkrite (who was previously the starting left guard before a knee injury to then-starting center A.J. Cinelli forced him to change positions), right guard Miguel Correia and right tackle Tyler Dunn — opened the necessary holes that allowed the Bulldogs to rush for 2,137 yards on 6.6 yards per carry and 27 touchdowns.
Roland attributed their success to the Bulldogs’ offensive line coaches: Ward Silvola, Victor Campbell and Caesar Campana.
“All three of them do a wonderful job with those kids,” Roland said. “With offensive line, you have to have multiple sets of eyes to be able to see what’s going on and get the best quality.”
Silvola, who has been an offensive line coach at FPC for 10 years, said the growth in maturity has been the most obvious difference between last year’s line and this year’s line.
“I think they’ve realized that when they work together, they’re an extremely strong unit,” he said. “They can get a run game going on any team they face. But that requires them to work together.”
For the players, doing the “little things” correctly has been the issue most harped on in practice and in games.
“Everybody holds each other accountable,” said Henshaw, who’s been a starter since his sophomore year. “If you jump offsides, I’ll smack you across the head. They expect that, and I expect the same for me.”
The Bulldogs lose Sebag, who serves as a backup to every position, and Henshaw, a Georgia Southern commit, to graduation this year. But they return four starters in 2019, including Cinelli, who was knocked out for the season with a knee injury.
“We’re going to be deadly next year,” Conkrite said.