September 20, 2002

Holding Ground

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They don’t flaunt impressive statistics for the offense like wide receivers, or boast individual numbers like their counterparts on the defensive line; nevertheless, the offensive line is as integral to a team’s success as any other cog in the machine.

If there is any way that a team could benefit from injuries, Cornell found it in the increased experience on the offensive line this year. As center Matt Holleran and Tom Kaplun ’02 fought injuries last season, freshman and sophomore linemen stepped into action. While the immediate replacement of the veterans hurt, the benefits have certainly shown themselves this year.

Two consistent contributors from last year headline the o-line. Junior center John Megaro, although not considered a starter, might as well have been after taking over for Holleran late in the season. Classmate and right tackle Jason Stadnik converted to offense after spending his freshman year on the defense.

Stadnik will serve as a model for two other offensive lineman listed on the defense’s roster in 2001. Sophomore guards Zach Beadle and Kevin Boothe made the switch to offense in the spring and have earned the starting jobs this fall.

After coming into Cornell as an out-of-shape freshman, Boothe impressed his coaches by losing weight and cutting his body fat in half.

“Kevin Boothe has a chance to be as good an offensive lineman as you see in this league,” Pendergast said. “If he keeps growing the way he has in the last 12 months he’ll be the best offensive lineman in the league. Period.”

Stadnik believes the line, having three defense-minded members, will be able to exploit the opposition.

“It gives you a heads up because you know what they’re supposed to do, the techniques that they use and how they’re going to come in off the ball,” he said.

Sophomore David Archer fills out the line at right tackle. He beat out some of the older players during training camps to win the job as starter. Archer saw limited snaps as a freshman last year.

Also contributing are junior Dominic Garguile, who sat out last year due to knee surgery, and Sean Nestor, and sophomore Steve Thompson. Tim Condon is the backup center and John Bazzo, a 6-1, 260-pound freshman, will play behind Boothe.

While Pendergast acknowledges that there is talent on the line, the youth of the squad concerns the coach.

“I’m worried about the lack of experience. In our two-deep, we have a senior,” Pendergast said.

“I remember my freshmen year, we were kind of like chickens running around with their heads cut off and you could tell that we weren’t ready,” Megaro recalled. “But there seems to be an extra cockiness with this freshman class. They’re ready to play.”

One thing that will work to Cornell’s advantage is the size of the linemen. They average just under 6-4, 275 pounds.

“We’re a big strong offensive line; size is definitely a factor and its good to see we’re lining up next to some guys who are just beasts,” Megaro said.

The offensive line may not see their respective names on the stat sheets after games this season, but they will see their efforts in the successes of others, such as the running backs and quarterbacks.

“Running the ball is something that we take pride in. It’s nice when you can sit back and keep guys off the quarterback,” Megaro said.

Archived article by Amanda Angel