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Chris Murphy, Published November 14 2012

Mahnomen's unbeaten season has been a total effort

Mahnomen, Minn. - The Mahnomen Indians run like a well-oiled machine. The Indians do not care about stats or individual glory.

They care about being

12-0, giving up an average of 3.6 points on defense and scoring 43 points per game en route to a semifinal matchup versus Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City on Saturday morning at the Metrodome.

And they care about which player is the most attractive on the team.

“For the record, I’m the best looking on the team,” Mahnomen right guard Jake Hedstrom said. “We pride ourselves on the score at the end. It would be cool to brag about a stat, but it’s also really cool to say we beat Barnum 26-0 or Warren-Alvarado-Oslo 47-0. Team is what we pride ourselves on.”

Nothing sums up the team aspect of Mahnomen like the offensive line.

The guys in the trenches aren’t the biggest players, averaging 196 pounds. But they work as a unit, leading to 517 points – second in school history behind last year’s 534 points – and 3,962 yards rushing – 300 yards away from second place and behind last season’s record of 4,551 yards.

With Mahnomen beating teams by an average of nearly 40 points a game, the Indians are racking up these stats with a lot of starters sitting late in the game.

“Our first group hardly played in the second half most of the season, so it’s really impressive,” Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. “We talk all the time about the glory boys being the quarterback and the running back, but the linemen go unnoticed. If linemen go unnoticed, that means they are doing their job.”

The Mahnomen line requires each player to not only do their job, but do the little things to make up for their lack of size.

“We don’t rely on our size that much,” said center Gabe Large, who is the smallest on the line at 175 pounds. “We get our helmets to the correct side, we drive our feet, stay low and go hard the whole play.”

And they work in unison.

“Explosion is one key thing we really work on,” Hedstrom said. “We have our snap count down to a tee. We get off the ball before the defense does, and that allows us to open up holes quicker than the defense can fill them.”

No player has benefitted more from the offensive line than the man throwing, running and kicking behind it in quarterback Jake Pavek. Behind the Mahnomen wall, Pavek has scored the second-most points in school history with 189 – second to his 218 points last season – including 27 rushing touchdowns and 1,156 yards on the ground.

“They get the job done,” Pavek said. “After every game, I go around and give each one of them a hug. All the credit goes to the linemen in the end.”

The line doesn’t need any credit. The final score is the only number they need.

“At the end of the game, you just look at the scoreboard,” Mahnomen left guard Nick Otto said. “Without stats or the glory, it still feels good to get that win.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548