When they are older men looking back at their high school football careers, the Delsea offensive linemen likely will recall the countless hours in the weight room, the hard work at practice, the big games under those Friday Night Lights.

And the big meals on Thursday nights.

"Sometimes, we eat so much we literally just sit on the couch and stare at each other," Delsea senior tackle Nick Caudill said.

The big boys can eat.

They can block, too.

The offensive line has cleared the way for Delsea (7-3) to rush for 3,743 yards en route to a berth in Friday night's South Jersey Group 3 semifinals against Timber Creek (10-0) in a compelling clash of Top 5 teams in the Inquirer's rankings.

"Delsea football starts there,"  Crusaders coach Sal Marchese Jr. said of his offensive linemen. "These guys, they are typical Delsea linemen. They aren't the biggest group we've had, but they're dedicated to the work in the off-season and they're dedicated to the program."

The Thursday night dinners have been a tradition for Delsea offensive linemen for years. They rotate the site, with families taking turns preparing massive meals, and they usually invite running backs, quarterbacks and other players as well.

But the linemen are front and center at the table, and the ritual is reflective of the bond that the players believe is as important to their success as all those weight-lifting sessions and practice drills under the watchful eye of long-time line coach Ronn Flaim.

"We're so close," Delsea senior offensive guard Will Sneathen said. "We basically live together at this school, all the time we spent here. We don't play as a group. We play as one."

Said senior tackle Joe Travers: "We've been together for years, hanging out all the time."

Friday night's game at Timber Creek has the look of a classic matchup of two top programs with distinct styles: the ground-hugging Crusaders, who have won four sectional titles in the last five seasons, and the pass-happy Chargers, who have won three titles in the last five seasons.

Delsea has won six games in a row, averaging 46.8 points. Junior running back Aidan Borguet has set a program record with a South Jersey-best 1,889 rushing yards and also has scored 26 touchdowns.

"We've gotten better as the season as gone along," Delsea senior center Tom Maxwell said. "We're not messing up assignments. We're going faster and faster."

Delsea' offensive line could be a key to the game, as the Crusaders try to control the football and clock, keeping Chargers senior quarterback Devin Leary — the state-record holder in career passing yards with 9,167 and career touchdown passes with 100 — off the field.

"We take pride in being physical," Delsea junior guard Colin Poisker said. "We know that's the way we have to play to be successful: control the line of scrimmage, take control up front."

Delsea senior tight end Max Crawford, who in the Crusaders' scheme is far more lineman than receiver, said the group's close bond — forged from all those hours in the weight room, and all that time on the practice field — "transfers to the field" in tangible results.

"We push each other, support each other," Crawford said. "We know we've all put in the work."

The Crusaders big men have put in the work in the weight room, on the practice field, on game night, and at the table during that movable, Thursday night feast.

"There's always enough food," Caudill said. "But we eat a lot of it."

Game at a glance

Delsea (7-3) at Timber Creek (10-0), Friday at 7 p.m.

At stake: This is a South Jersey Group 3 semifinal, so the winner advances to the sectional title game Dec. 2 at Rowan University.

Seeds: Timber Creek is the No. 1 seed. Delsea is the No. 4.

Rankings: Timber Creek is No. 1 in the Inquirer Top 25, Delsea is No. 5.

Last meeting: Timber Creek beat Delsea 39-36 in a regular-season game on Sept. 8.

Last year: Timber Creek beat Delsea 54-28 in the 2016 opener.

The streak: Timber Creek has won 25 games in a row.

Timber Creek players to watch: Senior quarterback Devin Leary (122-for-202, 2,358 yards, 26 TDs); senior running back Jerome Gibson (116 carries, 876 yards, 10 TDs); senior running back Kyle Dobbins (77 carries, 651 yards, 9 TDs); junior wide receiver Jayvon Little (25 catches, 603 yards, 5 TDs); junior linebacker Clarence Henderson (75 tackles).

Delsea players to watch: Junior running back Aidan Borguet (175 carries, 1,889 yards, 26 TDs); senior quarterback Mason Maxwell (86 carries, 527 yards, 6 TDs); senior running back Tymir Kizzee (60 carries, 518 yards, 9 TDs); junior linebacker Keison Fowler (83 tackles).

Key to the game: Can Delsea's ground game control the football and clock and limit opportunties for Leary and the high-powered Chargers?

Pick: Timber Creek, 31-27.