Hunter Skalecki admits it’s often a game of one-upmanship between he and teammate Trevor Duncan.
Playing up front for the Daniel Boone defense, there’s nothing Skalecki and Duncan enjoy more than wrecking havoc for opposing offenses.
“We compete with each other to see how many tackles we can get,” said Skalecki, a senior lineman. “It’s just the competitiveness in us. He’s really an explosive player and you have to keep up wih him. It’s fun out there, getting through the line and creating havoc.”
The two are a big reason why the Trailblazers finished 8-2 in the regular season. Head coach Jeremy Jenkins pointed out that Skalecki has been called on to play a larger role than a year ago.
“This year, we moved him to both sides of the ball,” Jenkins said. “He and Trevor (Duncan) been the mainstays for us. He’s played all the positions up front -- anywhere from tackle to guard to center.
“Hunter does a great job at nose tackle, but he can also play outside at defensive end. He’s made a lot of plays, especially being a down lineman in our scheme. You really have to double-team him on about every play.”
No game did the 6-2, 280-pound Skalecki have a bigger impact than a 37-7 victory over Tennessee High. It is the same team which Daniel Boone opens the postseason with this Friday night.
Jenkins liked how Skalecki’s ability to break through the line led to five interceptions thrown by Vikings quarterback Peyton Henley.
“If you can get pressure with your front four and drop seven in coverage, that’s a great thing for you,” Jenkins said. “We were getting pressure that night with four people, and he was right in the middle of that.”
It led to a huge night for Michael Osterman who had three interceptions, while Adam Edwards also had one. With Ryan Gaitor, Hunter Ward and Jake Littleton also playing in the defensive backfield, Skalecki knows there is plenty of support when the ‘Blazers go on an all-out rush.
“As a lineman, that gives us comfort if we get in the quarterback’s face and get our hands up, those secondary guys are going to pick the ball off,” he said. “It’s really good to know you have the guys back there working like that.”
Skalecki described their efforts as putting the pressure on Henley and keeping the pressure on. It was one of two games which Skalecki felt the ‘Blazers totally dominated up front with the Sullivan South contest being the other.
He explained much of that comes from the trust the linemen have developed by playing together so long and the time they spent working out together in the weight room.
While the roles of quarterbacks Jake Littleton and Dustin Chandler are certainly critical, the head coach said at this time of year, the Trailblazers’ success really does begin at the point of attack.
“In the playoffs, you’re only going to go as far as your up front people take you,” Jenkins said. “It’s cold and sometimes the skill people don’t like being in the cold. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run.”
Not to be overlooked is the senior class as a whole. While not as celebrated as Boone’s senior class of two years ago, this group has a 32-14 record over their four years and has qualified for the playoffs each season. With their turn in the spotlight this season, they’ve gone undefeated against teams Class 5A and smaller.
“This group has really come along, especially with the team concept,” Jenkins said. “It’s about doing your job and what you’re responsible for, but also picking each other up. They have the attitude that they’re going to be better tomorrow than they were today, it’s not going to stay the same.”
Friday’s playoff game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Nathan Hale Stadium.