Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — In the game of football, it’s typically the quarterback, running back, and receiver positions that garner most of the headlines.
And understandably so.
However, to find the foundation of a football team … the guts, the engine, the core … direct your attention towards the offensive line, where a battle in the trenches is always ongoing.
Southeastern is fortunate enough to have one of the best offensive line units in Southeastern Ohio, evidenced by the team’s 11-0 record and ability to run the football.
The brain of the offensive line lies in its center position, which is currently held at Southeastern by senior Jarren Ford.
“It’s pretty cool honestly to be the center. I watched my brother [Corbin] before he got hurt halfway through his senior season and I noticed the type of leadership he had,” Ford said. “He was probably the smartest guy on the team, and now that’s sort of the role that I’ve developed into. It’s nice to be at the top and understand what leadership is.”
Ford job’s is much more than just snapping the ball.
He has the responsibility of adjusting the line’s protection schemes, making sure his teammates are on the same page before executing the play call.
“Ever since the summer, every single mistake the line has made has been my fault,” Ford said. “But all the reps have only made me better and us better. I’m pretty flexible and since I’ve told every guy what to do on the line, I think I could play any position.”
While the senior center didn’t start on the 2017 team that won a Gold Ball, he’s been a part of the last two seasons where the Panthers have amassed an 18-4 overall record, which includes another Gold Ball this year.
Ford and company have been responsible for allowing Lane Ruby, Mikey Nusser, Dalton Thurston, and a slew of others, to run for more than 4,000 total yards during the regular season.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Ford enjoys every single time one of his teammates breaks off a long run … but for a different reason than one might think.
“It’s actually super relaxing watching them run up the field because it means that we just got out of going on a 15-play drive that might wear us out,” Ford said with a slight laugh. “Our offense is about getting three to four yards every play and being physical. But seeing these guys bust a long run takes a 15-play drive down to a five or six-play drive.
“There’s a special trust with this whole group. We’ve been playing together for years so it’s really a brotherhood. We all yell at one another, but it’s never anything serious. We all have respect for each other. We do our best to remain humble, not look ahead to anybody else, and focus on the task at hand, which is going 1-0 every single week.”
During Ford’s four years as a Panther, he’s experienced things that other Southeastern classes could only have dreamed of.
You could even make an argument that this Southeastern senior class is the best in school history.
As a group, the class has complied a 35-9 record so far alongside two Gold Balls and the school’s first two playoffs wins in history.
But more importantly, they’ve changed the perception of Southeastern football, setting a new standard and laying the base of a culture.
“We’ve created this expectation that we’re supposed to win. Losing isn’t even an option for us,” Ford said. “Just go out and win. That’s what we’ve learned how to do. Winning the SVC was the most important thing for myself because I wanted the bragging rights. Now we’re just having fun in the playoffs and enjoying the ride.”
The ride for the Panthers continues on Friday at Xenia High School as they match up with Covington, who defeated Worthington Christian 33-27 to advance, in a Division VI, Region 24 Quarterfinal last week.
Although Ford and company will approach it just like any other game, they also knows what’s on the line.
“It’s win or go home time now. We know there’s no bad teams in the playoffs,” Ford said. “We have to start fast and maintain our momentum. But most importantly, just play football the way we know how.”