Line leads way to resurgence of New Trier’s running game

SHARE Line leads way to resurgence of New Trier’s running game
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PARK RIDGE — Not much makes New Trier senior offensive lineman Matt Kaskey happier than when his offense moves the chains by running the ball.

“There’s a quote from an NFL lineman who said something about moving a man against his will,” said Kaskey, a 6-7, 300-pound left tackle. “It’s fun to open holes and shove the ball down a team’s throat.”

In the first half of a 24-7 loss to Maine South on Oct. 2, the Trevians did just that. While they scored only one touchdown — senior running back Kevin Mulhern’s 34-yard run — it was clear to anybody in attendance which team controlled the line of scrimmage in the first two quarters. The Trevians had two drives of 11 plays or longer, neither of which ended in points, and finished with 141 yards rushing.

“Physically, we were very dominant against them in the first half,” said New Trier coach Brian Doll, whose team trailed 10-7 at the break. “They were losing a lot of guys. They were gassed. I was proud of the way our offensive line ran the ball right at them. We fumbled a couple times, gave it to them. You control those turnovers, and I think we’re in a different situation.

“I really [liked] the way our offensive line played. They were having fun at halftime. They were saying, ‘Let’s run the ball right at them.’ ”

During the summer, Doll said he imagined the line — specifically the left side — could be a strength for New Trier (5-1, 1-1 CSL South). Kaskey and senior left guard Nick Balch, a 6-0, 240-pounder, were the only two linemen with starting experience on varsity.

Although they played on the opposite sides of the line as juniors (Balch was at right guard), Doll reunited Kaskey and Balch this season. Last year was the

first time in high school that the two didn’t play next to one another.

“We have chemistry, and we use that to our advantage,” Kaskey said. “We know what each other is thinking, and we talk a lot.”

Senior James Doan (6-1, 215), senior Jack Klein (6-1, 240) and senior Jack Palmer (6-3, 320) also are responsible for New Trier’s return to old-school football. Doll also said the hiring of Tom Hessling as his offensive line coach has contributed to the team’s productivity.

Mulhern finished with a game-high 148 yards on the ground against the Hawks.

“The successful New Trier teams of the 1980s and 1990s ran the ball,” said Doll, who played football for the Trevians and graduated in 1995. “We want to be a run-first team. That is something we want to establish.”

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