Ben Schmidt sometimes gets a little too excited when talking about playing on the offensive line.

Ben Schmidt sometimes gets a little too excited when talking about playing on the offensive line.

The 6-foot-1, 275-pound senior center for the Johnstown-Monroe High School football team has started on the line for three seasons, and his passion for playing in the trenches undeniable.

"I love bulldozing kids and putting them on their back. I love everything about the line," Schmidt said with a glazed look in his eyes. "I get excited talking about it. It gets my adrenaline going. It's sweet.

"And I have always loved football, and it's always been a part of my life. Since I was little, when I was 5, I was playing football in the backyard. I was born and raised on it."

Schmidt has played different positions in his three seasons. He was a guard as a sophomore and a tackle last season before moving to center.

"Ben has a good combination of strength, speed and good hands. He gets it done in practice," coach Mike Carter said. "In three years, he's played three different positions, so that says a lot about how versatile of a football player he is. His starting for three years has made a huge difference. The more experience you have, the better you get."

That experience must be making a difference this season. With Schmidt anchoring the line, the Johnnies were 3-1 before playing Loudonville last Friday. Much of that success can be attributed to the running attack, which is averaging 336 yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry.

"On the line, you have to be big, fast and tough and you have to be smart. You have to know what you have to do as soon as you break the huddle," said Schmidt, who has helped pave the way for 1,343 rushing yard on 162 carries through four games. "The blocking is different at each position, but you have to make sure you get the play down right. If everyone executes the way that they should, then 100 percent of the time we will get a touchdown. Execution is really the key."

The primary running threat for the Johnnies has been junior tailback Ross Franklin, who has rushed for 756 yards through four games on 59 carries for an average of 12.8 yards per attempt. He has eight touchdowns including scores of 57 and 75 yards on consecutive carries in a 42-14 win over Centerburg on Sept. 17.

"(The running backs) know exactly what they have to do and get through the holes," said Schmidt, whose team was ranked fourth in the Division IV area coaches poll behind top-rated Jonathan Alder. "We knew what Ross could do from middle school and knew that he's good at finding the holes and going through them."

Schmidt said the secret to success this season has been the unity on the line and throughout the team.

"We all have a good connection both on the team and on the line. Everyone knows their position and what everyone is doing on every play," he said. "That came from working out together in the offseason. Over the summer we worked hard on the line and when we came to practice, coach Carter pushed us hard and we told him we wanted him to push us as hard as he could because we wanted to be better."

"Ben is very enthusiastic and has a big heart. He cares so much about the team. He's a real team-player," Carter said. "We always believe that the line is the heart and soul of your team and Ben is a good team leader and he anchors the line."

When he started on the line, Schmidt was a youngster among senior leaders that helped the Johnnies finish 8-3 overall and reach the Division V postseason. Now, he is using what he learned as a sophomore to help his team return to the postseason, this time in Division IV.

"I learned a lot starting on the line as a sophomore. It was a big opportunity for me," he said. "I learned that you had to be disciplined and run hard. Those seniors taught me a lot and now I'm using that and passing it on as a senior."

But being a high-school senior can be a fleeting experience, especially in football when 10 games rush past in what may seem to be one week.

Schmidt added another chapter to his senior season against Centerburg when the Johnnies played their first home game. The team had missed two home contests because of drainage issues on the artificial surface at Frank H. Chambers Stadium.

"It was exciting to finally get to walk down the stairway through the middle of the stands and hear the crowd yelling for us. It really gets us pumped," Schmidt said. "But my senior year has been going by so fast, and it will be sad once it's over.

"We want to make sure we go out as seniors with a big bang because it's our last chance to make a statement in high school football. We have to win every game from here on out."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Johnstown-Monroe and Northridge football teams:

JOHNSTOWN

Sept. 17 - Defeated Centerburg 42-14 in MBC opener. Ross Franklin had 313 total yards with 240 rushing and three touchdowns and a 73-yard kickoff return to open the game. The Johnnies had 393 total yards with 338 coming on the ground. Chambers had 22 yards in four carries and quarterback Matt Smith added 35 yards in five carries. Smith also had a 26-yard Matt Smith pass to Garrett Jackson. *Last Friday - Played Loudonville *Friday - At Fredericktown. The Johnnies lost 47-22 last season. *Oct. 8 - Home vs. Utica. Johnstown lost 48-20 last season.

Of note: The Johnnies were 3-1 overall before last Friday and were ranked fourth in the Division IV area coaches poll behind top-rated Jonathan Alder.

NORTHRIDGE

Sept. 17 - Lost to Fredericktown 55-3 in MBC opener. The only score for the Vikings came on a 32-yard field goal by Jared Cooney. *Last Friday - Played Utica *Friday - At East Knox. The Vikings lost 35-34 last season. *Oct. 8 - Home vs. Danville. Northridge lost 41-0 last season.

Of note: The Vikings were 1-3 overall before last Friday.

*MBC game