Chiefs hoping O-line guides them to conference title
RONAN — In each year Jim Benn has coached at Ronan, the Chiefs have improved; now, entering his third year, Benn has something he has never had – a big offensive line.
"I have size for the very first time," Benn said of the O-line. "And they're quick, too."
The Chiefs don't announce starters, but most of the line saw significant playing time the past season. Toby Cheff, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior will anchor the line, Benn said that the all-conference linemen has "a motor like you wouldn't believe." Cheff will be joined by 265-pound Charles Hunter, 250-pound Justin Hall, 240-pound Aaron Yazzie, 200-pound Chris Clary and 195-pound Gordon North Piegan.
Benn said in Ronan's no huddle, misdirection offense, the offensive line is the most important cog.
"Those guys are going to tell the tale of what we do this season," Benn said.
The Chiefs lost some key players from last year's team that ended Ronan's playoff drought, but have 17 returning letterman.
"Last year's seniors accomplished a lot. We owe them a lot, but this group is ready to take another step forward," Benn said.
While people may not recognize some of the names of the group, Benn said most of them contributed last year.
Senior Lucas Black will take over for Xavier Morigeau at fullback. Black has exceptional speed and is always a threat to make a big play. Last year at wing back, Black averaged almost 9.5 yards a carry.
The Chiefs have six candidates that could share time at wing back. Senior R.J. Hesselgesser had a lot of carries the past season. Dallas Jore was a threat for the Chiefs as a freshman and J.J. Tanner can also carry the load for Ronan.
"They're all in the mix," Benn said of the six wing backs. "I feel like we have a lot of depth there."
Robbie Gauthier, a junior, will start for the Chiefs at QB. Gauthier started three games for the Chiefs the past season and Benn said is ready to take over the team.
At the start of last season, the Chiefs' pass defense was their weakest link with three sophomores starting as defensive backs. Gauthier, Jack Humphreys and Marcus Hungerford continued to work all season and Benn said by the end of the season he thought their pass defense was a strength. The three are back this year to help complete a defense that has shut down opponents' rushing attack the past two seasons.
The Chiefs' linebacking crew will be especially nasty with Clary and North Piegan. Benn said Clary just loves to hit people. North Piegan is a hybrid at the position that can do a lot of different things with his size and speed.
"We're preparing to win the division," Benn said, when asked what his team's goal is. He knows won't be an easy task and said the division is up for grabs. For the Chiefs to win the Northwestern A, the seniors who were role players last year are going to have to senior up and take on a larger role. Benn thinks they will.
"They want it. They have higher expectations than just being competitive. They want to win," Benn said.
The Chiefs will get their first chance at winning, Friday Aug. 27 at Browning.