ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Take it from Gino Bianconi, Wheeling Central's offensive line is pretty good.
''Our offensive line has worked harder than anyone on the field and they hardly get any credit for it,'' the Maroon Knights speedy running back said as the team practiced this week at Red Devils Stadium.
''They come out every day and work hard.''
Wheeling Central’s offensive line is comprised of, from left, Braxton Nolte (tight end), Chance Siebieda (right tackle), Nick Naumann (right guard), Derek Yocke (center), Ian Iuliucci (left guard) and David Stanley (left tackle).
Quarterback Parker Henry agreed.
''They're not very big, but they've worked hard all year,'' he said.
The unit will get its strictest test of the season Saturday night when it goes up against a bigger Williamstown line in the West Virginia Class A championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
But bigger isn't always better, according to the Maroon Knights.
''We knew we weren't going to have the size this year,'' line coach Ed Anderson said, ''we'd be predicated on speed.''
And it's worked.
Even with an entirely new offensive front, the Maroon Knights have churned out more than 4,000 rushing yards and almost 5,000 yards of total offense.
Bianconi leads the way with nearly 2,000 yards of total offense, while Henry has 1,230 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns.
Those numbers are music to the ears of veteran coach Jim Wolfe, who coaches the unit along with Anderson.
''These are a great bunch of guys,'' Wolfe said. ''From Day 1 they've listened to what we've said and followed it up the whole season.''
Wolfe has been on the Central staff since 1984 and he can't remember being as proud of the progress made by a group of players.
''It's a credit to those guys,'' he said.
After the Maroon Knights defeated Wahama to win the championship last December, Wheeling Central lost five letterwinners off its line - Aaron Schneid, Johnny Duplaga, Tyler Jacovetty, John Miller and Dustin Henry.
Add in the losses of running back Marcus Clifford and quarterback Lee Peluchette and the Maroon Knights were looking at a major overhaul on offense this season.
But here they are again, playing for another championship.
''We told them at the start of the season that we don't want them to run through a wall for us. We want them to run through a wall for each other,'' Anderson said. ''And they've done just that.''
Tight end Braxton Nolte is the lone holdover from last season. The rest of the unit is comprised of Derek Yocke (center), Ian Iuliucci (left guard), Nick Naumann (right guard), Chance Siebieda (right tackle) and David Stanley (left tackle).
Seth Yost, Jim Tankovits and Michael Schwarz have also contributed plenty to the unit.
''They've been fantastic,'' Anderson said. ''They've won the battles up front when you don't think they're going to. They've stepped up to the challenge.''
Iuliucci and Naumann played fullback last season.
''They have a great attitude,'' Anderson said. ''You ask and they do it.
''I walked up to Yocke and asked him 'How'd you like to play center?' and he's like 'uhh, I don't know.'
''And I said 'what if it means you'll be on the field and possibly starting?' And he's like 'OK.' ''
It's that desire to do anything to help the team win that Central head coach Mike Young sees as one of the team's keys to success.
''There are a lot of unsung heroes on this team,'' he said. ''They realize that for anyone to be a hero everyone has to play good football.
''We need 11.''