O-line changes key to Hornets success

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A broken thumb determined the positions of last year’s offensive line for Hinsdale South.

But with four returnees from last year’s Front Five, second-year coach Mike Barry didn’t feel bound to keep last year’s line in tact.

A revamped offensive line has helped the Hornets to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2004 and Hinsdale South will try to increase its season-opening win streak at defending West Suburban Gold champion Addison Trail at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Hinsdale South is the only remaining undefeated team in the conference and faces a Blazers (1-2, 0-1) squad that has been unable to score the past two weeks in losses to Proviso West and Leyden. The Hornets opened conference play Friday night with a 53-0 victory over visiting Proviso East.

“We are able to compete up front,” Barry said. “It’s been great. It’s a key to our accomplishments and our goals. We have a good offensive line.”

Two coaches are responsible for the progress of the offensive line. Barry attributes part of the success to Pete Naughton, the offensive line coach. Seniors Zach Guritz and Matt Welgos lauded the work of strength coach David Isaacson, who made sure the players committed to the weight room in the offseason. Isaacson also created an honors wall for players performing different weightlifting skills.

Like many other teams, the Hornets now have a new Top Ten list in their weight room to honor players for Squats, Bench Press and Hang Cleans.

“In my mind, we were not as strong [last year] as we are this year,” Barry said.

Barry considered shuffling around his offensive line before this summer.

The player whose thumb was responsible for where last year’s line played was Welgos, an undersized lineman at 5-foot-9, 180-pounds, whose top sport is usually hockey. He plans on playing for a travel hockey team after the football season is over.

Welgos broke his right thumb shortly before last year’s summer workouts and could no longer snap the football at center, his position as a freshman and sophomore. Once the line played its new positions last summer, Barry decided to keep the same line together in the fall.

The Hornets won five games in 2011, but their weak schedule let them down as Hinsdale South fell short of enough tiebreaker points to make the playoffs.

Only senior Peter Gebauer (6-2, 220) has kept the same position this season from last as the left tackle. Left guard Roy Okendo was the only O-lineman to graduate from last year. He has been replaced by junior Frank Cabrera (6-3, 290), who is even wearing Okendo’s same No. 78 jersey.

Guritz (6-3, 280), last year’s center, has moved to right guard. Senior Sean Miller (6-2, 210) has shifted from right guard to right tackle and Welgos is back at center.

For Welgos, every snap is in the shotgun under Barry’s new no-huddle spread offense.

“It’s kind of the same, but it’s kind of different,” Welgos said. “We are running a different offense than when I was a freshman and a sophomore.”

Even Guritz is learning to adjust.

“I really like everyone’s [new spots], but it’s definitely an adjustment. That’s why I look at the snap now,” Guritz said.

Guritz and Welgos have played football together since they were teammates at Cass Junior High in Darien. Gebauer, a Burr Ridge resident, is the only starting offensive lineman not from Darien.

Surprisingly, the Hornets are winning games on the ground. Senior quarterback D.J. Deolitsis has completed 46 percent of his passes for only 292 yards and one TD. Hinsdale South is averaging 6.75 yards per carry led by Deolitsis’ 42 carries for 343 yards and six TDs for an average of 8.17 yards.

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