By Dave Morrison
NEW RICHMOND – It’s not every day a lineman gets to score a touchdown.
It’s one of those thse things the big guys dream about after a hard day blocking for the skill players who get in the end zone.
Wyoming East’s tackle Tanner Jenkins is no different.
And he remebers nearly getting one. Jenkins hope it’s not the one that got away.
“We were playing Westside and (linebacker) Clay Lester knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and I fell on it,” Jenkins said. “I looked up and the referee said his arm was going forward (making it an incomplete pass). I looked at the tape. It looked a fumble to me.”
Another lineman robbed by the tuck rule.
Jenkins has another season to see if he can get that elusive touchdown. And he knows what is in store if he does.
“That would be crazy,” Jenkins said. “We would probably get a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. I’d go crazy.”
It should be noted he has scored a touchdown. There is a caveat.
It didn’t come as a lineman, it came during a one-year stint in midget football when he was a running back. The rest of his career has been on the offensive line where he uses a mixture of size and technique to get the job done.
“When I was playing A team (midget league) football, I was a running back,” Jenkins said. “Marcus Schofield, who is one of our assistant coaches now, was my coach. It’s a little bit hazy but I do remember scoring a couple of touchdowns.”
Jenkins is more than happy, though, with his other jobs.
One, is protecting senior quarterback Seth Ross and opening running lane for backs like Caleb Bower as the Warriors’ massive 6-foot-6, 275-pound left tackle. The other is taking up as much space on the defensive line as possible to free up the Warriors ‘ athletic linebackers.
He has opened not only holes but eyes over the summer.
At West Virginia State’s football camp he was named the King Lineman.
“He won King Lineman at the camp and was offered a scholarship right there on the spot,” first-year coach Larry Thompson said. “They are high on Tanner. There were some outstanding linemen at that camp. There was a 6-9, 320 pound kid there who is being heavily recruited and he dominated every one.”
Thompson does not mince words talking about his line.
“This is the strongest line I’ve been around in my life,” Thompson said. “These two lines (offensive and defensive) are the strongest lines I’ve been around in my life.”
And Jenkins is the leader.
Jenkins said he understands that the line is being counted on, as was the case last year, when the Warriors averaged 203.1 yards rushing per game. That was a 130-yard improvement from 2017. Still, the Warriors finished 2-8.
It is a cautionary tale.
“We thought last year was going to be a really good season for us,” Jenkins said. “We had returning lineman, a lot of other returning players. Now, we are a year older. We learned from that.”
Some in the eastern part of Wyoming County are even talking postseason.
“We haven’t made the playoffs in like five years (the last appearance was 2014),” Jenkins said. “It would be crazy if we made the playoffs.”
From tackle to tackle the Warriors will average 234 pounds. There is Jenkins, senior left guard Noah Francis (6-0, 240), junior center Josh Reilley (5-11, 230), senior right guard Brandon Morgan (6-1, 210) and senior right tackle Isaac Perdue (6-1, 215).
“I feel like, all throughout our line, in most games we are going to be stronger than anyone we play,” Jenkins said. “Coach Thompson puts us through hard workouts. It’s mentally tough but when we finished we felt a lot stronger. We’ve never been through workouts where it was more mentally tough than physical.”
Jenkins feels like his strength is when Ross drops back to pass.
“Pass protection,” he said of his strong point. “I feel like that is something I can do well.”
The Warriors have a bye week to open the season, then open the season with the annual battle of the Golden Shovel on Sept. 6 at the War Zone.