“The Trench Mob”: West Forsyth offensive line prides themselves on making others successful

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

West Forsyth O-line. Front row, from left: Will Hughey, Cedric Cooper-Laney, Ronny Elhadidy, Miles Burns, Lucas Reece. Back row: Jordan Kennedy, Jared Wilson, Owen Brown, Grant Copeland, Carter Marzano, Isaiah Brooks.

By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier

You won’t see their names included in most game recaps. They don’t typically score touchdowns or make the necessary throws to extend drives or find the end zone after a 25-yard run.

They are selfless. They are physical. They genuinely want to see their teammates succeed because that is how they measure themselves.

They are the “Trench Mob,” also known as the West Forsyth offensive line, and they have been a huge reason — literally — why the Titans have raced out to an 8-1 record this season.

Senior left tackle Isaiah Brooks (6-5, 305), junior left guard Carter Marzano (6-2, 260), senior center Grant Copeland (6-3, 280), senior right guard Owen Brown (6-1, 270), junior right tackle Jared Wilson (6-4, 335) and junior H-Back Jordan Kennedy (6-1, 215) pack plenty of punch when they get down and dirty in the trenches.

That’s a combined 1,665 pounds pushing opposing defenses off the ball and opening massive running and passing lanes for the prolific Titan offense, which has scored a Central Piedmont 4-A Conference best of 387 points (43 points per game) this season.

“I like to think that I’m doing everything I can to protect my quarterback and to open things up for our running backs,” said Copeland, a recent Shrine Bowl selection. “Our job is to give those guys chance to do their jobs. Seeing those guys make plays, seeing them scoring touchdowns, that’s what makes me smile. That’s how I know I’ve done what I’m supposed to do.”

Brooks, who protects quarterback Jalen Ferguson’s blind side as the left tackle, summed up his role rather succinctly.

“I just want to destroy the person that’s in front of me,” Brooks said. “I want to destroy their egos and make them not want to play anymore. I make sure I do what I can to keep them off the ball and keep them away from our quarterback.”

There are college coaches who may be somewhat envious of the group that the Titans have assembled this year because of their size and skill.

Antonio Benjamin, in his second season as the offensive line coach at West, knew this group had a chance to be special when off-season workouts began in January.

“We started molding the mentality and laying the groundwork, laying the foundation, when we came back after a great offseason and we’ve rolled with it,” Benjamin said. “We knew we would be a ‘ground and pound team’ and we wanted to find a way to cultivate the O-line and make it happen. We’ve been able to come out and set the tone so far and control the ball the way we want to. I’ve not seen a line like this for a high school team. It makes things really fun.”

Senior running back G’mone Wilson has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the “Trench Mob.”

Wilson has run for 1,371 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. Zy Dillard also has put up impressive numbers while running for 817 yards and seven touchdowns.

“They are a big part of this team,” Wilson said. “I saw them all summer busting it in the weight room, giving it all they had. So, I told them I was going to give them all I’ve got because they give all they’ve got for me. They make things a lot easier for us. They make a lane and I find it. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do the stuff that we do.”

Ferguson has thrown for 1,127 yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with 152 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

He has been sacked just four times this season.

“Those big guys up front, they deserve all the credit,” Ferguson said. “I always have plenty of time in the pocket and G’mone can run pretty much wherever he wants to. Knowing I have time to go through all my progressions and focusing on making a good pass is a big deal. They help me keep my poise in the pocket.”

Wilson, who is garnering recruiting interest from plenty Division I schools, relishes his selfless role.

“The best thing for me is seeing all those stats they get in the newspaper,” Wilson said. “That always makes me smile because that tells me that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.”

Brown, who has been playing alongside Copeland since the two were in elementary school, said that there is no place he’d rather be on the field.

“Just knowing that we contributed to someone’s success is what it’s all about for me,” Brown said. “We’re all brothers. It started during off-season workouts when we were doing everything together and really developed that bond.”

Marzano started playing football when he got to West as a freshman. He grew up playing hockey and loved to hit people, but never gave football a shot until he showed up for tryouts.

“They welcomed me with open arms,” Marzano said. “I’ve never felt more at home than with this group of people. I was a tight end at first, then got moved to defensive line, and now I’ve settled in on the offensive line. The reward for me is seeing what those guys are able to do every game and how great they are at doing it. That’s good enough for me.”

Kennedy, as the H-back, also gets to run routes and catch passes after making his initial block.

“It’s just a mindset of being nasty to do what we do,” Kennedy said. “I might get to catch a few passes, but I feel like I should be blocking for most of the game. That’s our brotherhood. We’re all the best of friends and we love to do things together.”

The “Trench Mob” also has a chance to teach.

Their backups push them in practice and get feedback from their counterparts when they get to go into games. They’ve also learned plenty by watching the starters perform.

“We have some great kids and great depth behind these guys, and they love the competition,” Benjamin said. “They are ready to step in and make things happen if they are called upon.”

Ronni Elhadidy, the backup right guard, understands the importance of not missing a beat when his opportunity comes.

“Our mentality is to have no drop off from the starters at all and to keep our feet on the gas,” Elhadidy said. “We want to finish the job the way they started it. We all take great pride in that because we know how good they are, and we need to maintain that high level.”

“Our job is to make their positions look better,” said senior Cedric Cooper-Laney, one of the backups. “They set a great example for us and we need to come in there and keep it crisp.”

“They are helping us out every chance they get,” said Will Hughey, the backup H-back. “We’re always asking them what they are seeing out there so when we go in, we know what to expect.”

“We want to get after it like they do,” said backup center Miles Burns. “We want to come in and perform on the same level. We’ve learned a lot by practicing with them and watching them play.”

Lucas Reece said the competition he has with Marzano during practice is beneficial for both of them.

“It helped us bond and I know we both got better because of it,” Reece said. “Any time I go in, he’ll always tell me what’s going on when he comes off the field. We don’t want to miss a beat when our time comes to play.”

They are all Titans. They all have one goal.

“We’re all great friends,” Copeland said. “We’re all West Forsyth Titans. We just want to do what we can to help our team win. That’s the main thing.”