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Success starts up front for Salisbury football

Five Salisbury football players were acknowledged for their performance in the Route 13 rivalry, but their impact this season goes beyond the stat sheet.

The line helped Salisbury to a prolific day on the ground, tallying 506 yards of total offense with 417 on the ground. This was the most yards Wesley College had given up in a game since 2016, and it led to Salisbury claiming a 45-38 victory in the matchup.

But this front for Salisbury has been the key to success in all seven of the Sea Gull victories this year.

The Sea Gull offensive line consists of seniors Tyler Rosello, Tyler Norwood and Owen Bolyard and juniors Caleb Weatherford and Joseph Osborne. This unit was named to the Team of the Week on Oct. 15.

On Oct. 16, the Sea Gulls moved into the top 10 in Division III football for the first time since 2012.

Salisbury sits at No. 7 in the poll and No. 10 in the American Football Coaches Association poll. The team boasts a 7-0 overall record with five wins over its New Jersey Athletic Conference opponents.

Osborne said being an important player for a top team in D-III football is a highlight for his collegiate career.

“It’s a great feeling. I’ve never, ever been in that spot before,” Osborne said. “Especially personally, I’ve helped a lot. I wasn’t just someone on the sidelines, and I was a part of that.”

The maulers up front have been a big factor in the Sea Gulls' success this year, as they have helped this offense evolve in different ways.

During the 2018 season, the Sea Gulls totaled 26.5 passing yards per game and 348.5 rushing yards per game.

Rosello said there were multiple injuries on the offensive line last year that hindered the unit’s communication. All five starters on the line have been healthy this season, which has played a major role in the unit’s success.

“Specifically, injuries last year, three to five, maybe four of us were hurt, so I think the communication was off, and this year, the communication is big,” Rosello said. “We’ve all been together this whole year, all year long, we’ve been able to communicate and really talk during the games.”

The 2019 Sea Gulls are racking up yards on offense. The team averages 445 total yards in each game, with 323.4 rushing yards per game and 121.6 passing yards per game.

This is the first time since 2008 that Salisbury’s offensive line has been recognized in D-III football.

The Sea Gulls have struggled to have five offensive line starters that perform well and stay healthy in the past. Head coach Sherman Wood said the players decided this season would be different.

“They said ‘Look, we’re going to make sure that’s not the case anymore.’ They don’t want to be close … they want all of it,” Wood said. “I think it’s created cohesiveness and continuity, and they were confident and had goals. They wanted to make sure they crossed the ‘T’ and dotted the ‘I’ this year.”

Last summer, all five starters on the line stayed in Salisbury to work on their chemistry and become a stronger force up front. They conditioned together, worked out together, worked together and even ate together.

Another factor in the success of the Salisbury front line this year is the experience they have gathered over the past years. Getting time on the field with each other has helped boost the chemistry and makes them work better as a whole on game day.

Sophomore quarterback Jack Lanham said having that line in front of him gives him a type of security and allows him more time in the pocket after receiving the snaps.

“Basically, when the offense scores points, it’s because of the offensive line,” Lanham said. “They don’t always get the credit, but they’ve been holding it down, so they get all the credit … not us.”

Lanham has played in all seven games for the Sea Gulls, throwing for 712 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 496 yards and six touchdowns. Lanham leads the Sea Gulls in rushing.

Bolyard said playing on the offensive line forces the teammates to be unselfish and acknowledge that their hard work can sometimes go unnoticed. He said to be acknowledged for a position that doesn’t have stats online was exciting.

“We do all the dirty work … we’re not the selfish guys on the team,” Bolyard said. “It was a little shocking for us to get some recognition, so you know, there were a lot of smiles in the locker room after we got recognized.”



Staff writer

Featured photo: Sports Information image.

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