Some of the biggest battles on the football field happen in the trenches, yet offensive and defensive linemen hardly get any recognition, at least from the casual football observer.
That doesn’t disturb Saugus lineman Nathan Tripp, who has starred on the Centurions’ varsity O-line for three seasons.
“It doesn’t really bother me because regular fans, they’re only going to know the names of the runnings backs, quarterbacks the wide receivers who are scoring,” Tripp said. “I know in my heart and the other people on the line know we’re putting in good work. As long as we can get in the end zone, get points on the board, get wins, I’m going to be happy.”
Tripp has played center for most of his football career, arguably the most difficult position, and one of the most underappreciated.
The center has numerous responsibilities, from analyzing the defensive shifts, to communicating with the rest of the line, not to mention the exchange with the quarterback. Taking the snap while simultaneously stepping back is no easy task, especially when the opposing team’s nose tackle is charging full speed ahead in your direction.
“Sometimes the most talented D-linemen are at nose guard and that’s usually the biggest person,” Tripp said. “People don’t realize that and so it gets pretty hard sometimes when you have to block a really big dude over and over again the entire game.”
A popular theory that floats around football locker rooms is the closer to the ball you are, the smarter you have to be.
Tripp is definitely a believer in that theory.
“As center you have to be the smartest person,” he said. “You have to correlate both sides of the line and make sure everyone is getting to where they need to be. Basically know every position because if not, if people are unclear, it’s going to mess up the entire play.”
Through all the practices and games, Tripp has probably snapped the ball to his quarterback over a thousand times.
It’s no wonder why he’s so good at it.
He was named to the All-CIF Team in Division 6 last year as a junior, making him and Canyon lineman Jacob Lopez the only two non-senior linemen to be given the honor.
No. 55 is continuing his outstanding play on the O-line this year, starting at center in Saugus’ season-opening 63-0 trouncing of Taft. In the second game of the season head coach Jason Bornn moved the senior to right guard, which according to Tripp, “will allow me to do more pulls and be able to block linebackers more.”
The strategy seemed to work, as Saugus defeated Agoura 51-26.
“I feel our O-line is communicating really well,” Tripp said. “Our running backs are finding the lanes they need to get to and everything is flowing pretty well. If we get to our assignments and do what we need to do, nothing can stop us.”
Tripp, who is also accomplished in discus throw and shot put, hopes to continue his athletic career at the next level, whether it’s in track and field, football or both.
“I want to help out my mom and dad with paying for college and if I can get there for a discounted price or even a full discount I’d probably take that,” he said. “If I get a scholarship for football, I’ll play football and in the spring I’ll do track. That would keep me doing what I love to do.”