Of all the players on a high school football team, offensive linemen usually labor in the most obscurity. They rarely run or pass or score touchdowns.
But, particularly for a physical, power-running team like Timpview, their contribution to the team success is impossible to quantify. The linemen find plenty of satisfaction in the overall success.
“When we make the perfect blocks and perfect plays, it’s super-rewarding,” Thunderbird senior Tylor Stubbs said after practice on Tuesday. “If it’s third-and-2 and we get four yards, that 4-yard gain is so rewarding. When we all get the push and someone pancakes someone, I’m so happy for my guys. Seeing the success of my brothers around me and doing the little things are the most rewarding things.”
Stubbs has been one of the leaders for a Timpview team that has come on strong late in the season and is now preparing to face Region 7-rival Orem in the 5A state championship game on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City at 6:30 p.m.
“He’s always had a stabilizing personality,” Thunderbird head coach Andy Stokes said. “He’s not crazy one way or the other. He does a lot of things for us. He’s started at right tackle, at left tackle and now he is playing center. He’s a captain on the team. He’s a hard worker who puts in extra work. He’s that good medium personality that you need on a team who stabilizes the whole ship.”
Stubbs said he has always been ready for another challenge.
“I thought of it as an opportunity to get better,” Stubbs said. “I looked at it as the team needs help and I’m willing to do whatever the team needs. What gives me joy is seeing the success of the whole team, with the running backs or quarterbacks or receivers, after I’ve moved. My favorite part has been seeing how everyone does.”
Stokes explained that Timpview’s offensive approach evolved because of what Stubbs and his fellow linemen were able to do.
“Part of the reason that we changed into the new dynamic that we are doing offensively is that we feel like we are really physical up front,” Stokes said. “We have the guys up front who can get the job done and Tylor is the leader of that group of kids. They are the core of what we do offensively.”
Stubbs and his teammates have embraced that mindset and it has become more and more evident as the season progressed.
“We’ve gotten a little more physical each week of the year and now everyone is starting to notice that about us,” Stokes said. “If that’s the type of team you are going to be, the offensive line specifically has to set that tone. We had the physical tight end and physical running backs to partner with a good, quality offensive line.”
But Stokes said his favorite memory of his senior captain was watching Stubbs lay the foundation to be that type of player during the offseason.
“I think my favorite thing with Tylor was this past offseason and the work he put in,” Stokes said. “He had shoulder surgery right after the season last year. He was dedicated to rehabbing that along with making sure that he didn’t lose a step anywhere else. Watching him put in every possible effort over a seven-month period to make sure he was ready go this season was probably my favorite memory.”
Now Stubbs and the Thunderbirds are ready to put it all on the field one final time.
“It’s crazy because I remember every practice, every game, every activity clear from my freshman year,” Stubbs said. “Knowing it is ending in a few days is nuts — but I’ve loved every minute of it. All the hard work I’ve put in the last few years is leading up to this game and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Stokes feels a special affinity to his upperclassmen and he’s thrilled that they get to wrap up on the biggest stage.
“It’s been special with this group of seniors because I came in last year in March,” Stokes said. “This is really my first group of seniors that I’ve had here for an entire cycle. These kids have become special to me. We are so grateful as a staff that these kids kept earning one more week of football until now. We’ve got everything out of this season that we could.”
The end goal is for Timpview to win its 12 state football title.
“One of our coaches said this past week that this week’s game is a time for us to lock in our spot in the Timpview dynasty,” Stubbs said. “We can put the 2019 team in the record books as one of the champions. We can be with all of the big names and that means a lot to me.”
Stubbs and the Thunderbirds know it won’t be easy as they square off against an Orem team that beat them, 28-10, on Oct. 4.
“I’m looking at this as just another game,” Stubbs said. “It’s another chance to show what I’ve been working on throughout the season and what the team as a whole has been working on. I’m forgetting about the first time we saw them. It’s a completely different game. We are both going to be different teams than we were that first time.”