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No. 6 Shawnee at No. 1 Timber Creek: The offensive line anchors the Chargers

Senior center Matt Ringstaff says there's an "admission fee" to the spring barbecue for the offensive linemen on the Timber Creek High School football team.

Senior center Matt Ringstaff says there's an "admission fee" to the spring barbecue for the offensive linemen on the Timber Creek High School football team.

"You got to bring something," Ringstaff said. "Hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, something."

Food, beverages, paper products. That's not all it takes to be part of that exclusive group of big men.

There's another price to be paid, but it's nothing that can be purchased at the supermarket.

It's time in the weight room.

It's work on the practice field.

It's complete commitment to the team and to each other.

"It's the bond we have," senior tackle Dexter Miller said. "That's the key for us, how hard we work for each other and for the team."

Timber Creek (9-0) is the No. 1 team in the Inquirer Top 25.

The Chargers, who will host rival Shawnee (8-1) Friday night in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals, are averaging 49.6 points, a pace that would make them the second-highest-scoring team in South Jersey history.

Junior quarterback Devin Leary has thrown 36 touchdown passes. Senior wide receivers Ezrah Archie (16), Dante Waugh-Hill (7), and J.P. Roane (6) have combined for 29 touchdown catches.

The Chargers also have rushed for 22 touchdowns, with junior Jerome Gibson (9) and senior Harold Coleman (6) combining for 15, while both are averaging better than eight yards per carry.

"It's like almost every play, you watch somebody run by you for a touchdown," senior guard Trevor Perry said of the Chargers' high-powered offense.

But most folks associated with Timber Creek football, especially Leary and Archie and head coach Rob Hinson, stress that the foundation of the team's success has been the offensive line.

They've opened the holes. They've bought the time. They've made their mark in the biggest moments, controlling the fourth quarter of the Chargers' closest game, a 28-21 victory over Cherokee in Week 2.

"They've done such a great job," Hinson said. "They're a little bit under the radar because everybody sees Devin and Ez and all those guys.

"But everybody around here knows it starts with them. And they are super close."

Seniors such as Ringstaff, Miller, and Perry are leaders of the front line. Junior guard Derryk Sellers and junior tackle Jake Kidwell are starters, with junior Nate Rowe serving a valuable role as a swing man.

"It's our chemistry that makes us strong," Sellers said.

Said Kidwell: "We're always together, in school, out of school. We have a bond, a brotherhood."

Kidwell said "communication" is key to the offensive line's best work.

"When we get to the line of scrimmage, we can say one word and everybody knows," Kidwell said. "We just have a great understanding of each other."

Sellers says you have to be "well over 200 pounds" to get an invitation to that big-men-only party that Ringstaff and his family host in the spring.

But it takes more than bulk and a bag of potato chips to get a ticket to that event.

"Teams that have that bond, that have that chemistry, those are the teams that win," Miller said. "That's the way it is for our offensive line. We feel like it all starts with us."