MT. VERNON — Graham Henken knows what it's like to be a lineman.
He played for several years on the line during his junior football days. He brings the same physical toughness and style to his fullback position for the Mt. Vernon football team.
“It is nice to have a running back who's not afraid to go up and hit somebody or to get that extra yard by running through the tackler,” offensive lineman Eli Phillips said. “It really helps.”
Henken is one of several in a group of running backs who bring a variety of styles to this season's Rams rushing attack. The group along with the offensive line have dominated opponents over the last two weeks. Against Triad, just one Mt. Vernon runner was caught behind the line of scrimmage. It came late in the contest with the Rams up several scores.
“That's huge and in the past two years we have not been good at that,” Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said. “Our blocking on the perimeter has not been as good. And I think there's a whole number of reasons. I think kids are more comfortable with what we're doing. I think our kids have worked hard in the weight room. They're a little more physical.”
The Rams have racked up more than 650 yards on the ground during wins against Mascoutah and Triad. The victories have led to more wins this season than the past two seasons combined.
The offensive line behind a trio of seniors – Tyler Bradley, Eli Phillips and Josh Bourland – along with two juniors – Alex Hopkins and London Marler – have worked to open holes for a deep group of runners.
“I would say right now our offensive line is doing a really good job of blocking, running some pretty good traps, and we're just getting great blocks on that,” Henken said. “It's giving me a great hole to run through.”