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By: GREG HIGGINS
Talk to any football coach and more than likely they will tell you the game is won in the trenches. In other words, it’s won at the line of scrimmage. Whichever team can control that aspect of the game will probably win. Whether it’s the offensive line or the defensive line, it’s imperative to win those battles. These positions aren’t the glamour positions of football. However they are vital to any team’s success.
Take Tanner Wagoner for instance. This 6’-0” Senior has been playing football since the sixth grade. “I was probably sixth grade or so and just starting football and I hadn’t played before,” says Tanner. “One of the coaches I had said, ‘Hey why don’t you try this out.’ It stuck after that and that’s what I’ve played ever since.”
For Tanner this isn’t just a position he was stuck doing either. When talking to the second year varsity starter, you can tell he loves playing as a lineman. “We go to the line and then you got to check around and look where the defense is,” Tanner says as he breaks down an offensive play for me. He continues, “If you don’t know where they are, you can’t get a block. He (quarterback) calls the cadence and you snap it.” Tanner goes on to echo coach Felty as he tells me how you have to get the correct steps in and watch your technique as you’re trying to block the defender.
Tanner knows the importance of getting that block in and not missing it. When asked if he’d ever missed a block, his response was, “a few” as he chuckles. Besides playing football Tanner loves being outdoors. He loves to hunt and loves to do a lot of outdoor activities including being at the lake. Tanner maintains mostly A’s for his grades with the exception of “a B every now and then” he exclaims. His favorite subject in school is History and for now he’s thinking about possibly going into the medical field after he graduates.
As the center, every play starts with Tanner and he knows it’s his responsibility to get the ball to the quarterback and then protect the quarterback or the running back on every play. When asked about nerves before a game, he responds with “After the first hit you’re pretty good, but up until then you’ve got those butterflies.” Tanner tries not to over think too much while on the football field. He relies on what he’s practiced and hopes that it will translate onto the field. So far, he and his offensive line teammates have done a pretty amazing job. North Lamar has rushed for over 500 yards in the two games combined.
Tanner Wagoner and the Panthers will be in action Friday night as they face the Canton Eagles.
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