Small is the word most frequently used to describe a Vanden High School offensive lineman.
It is nothing less than a miracle if the Vikings have an offensive lineman who weighs more than 200 pounds. In the past, rumor had it the the Viking coaching staff would be willing to trade any two of its linemen for one 250 pound guy.
Such is not the case in 1984. Granted, Vanden's linemen are by no means giants, but Offensive Line Coach Tom Kiefer is content. He's willing to keep them.
Kiefer, who returned to the post this season after holding the position from 1964-76, honestly believes his current line is as good as any line Vanden has ever had.
The current line consists of tackles Joe Leonard and Chris Stiltner, guards Mark Baranowski and Jeff Rooney and center Jeff Martin. Chuck Coates, a senior transfer student from Germany, also sees plenty of action at either of the tackle spots.
"The line we had in 1975 (the season Vanden won the Sac-Joaquin Section Class A Championship) was big but this line is quick and aggressive," Kiefer said. "Each line is great in its own way. I was just lucky enough to coach both."
If the Vikings offensive line in 1975 was the key to winning the section crown, history might repeat itself this season. The Vikings will play host to Oak Ridge in the first-round section playoff game Friday night at the George A. Gammon Athletic Field.
"We know Oak Ridge is big but I think our kids enjoy the challenge," offered Kiefer. "Our line's a throwback to the 50's. This is a macho group. They are aggressive."
Martin indicated the linemen have put in extra hours because they know they are small. According to the senior center, they realize they have to work a little harder.
"We know we don't have the weight, but we try to compensate for it by lifting weights," explained Martin. "We're also a smart group. If we can't out-muscle our opponents, we out-think them."
In order to out-think an opponent, Rooney stated he and the other linemen had to first completely understand Head Coach Ron Beverly's offensive philosophy.
"It's a challenge and it gets frustrating at times," Rooney said. "We have to go over things again and again to get them right. It takes a lot of work and concentration."
"It is nice when we put it together in a game though," he added.
The Vikings have been putting things together, thanks to their small linemen.