Ashburn, Va. (September 22, 2014) – When little boys dream about playing football in high school and college, they envision themselves throwing the big pass, making the impossible catch, or eluding and running over would-be tacklers enroute to the game winning touchdown.
When 6-3, 270 pound Briar Woods Falcon offensive guard Jon Hirsch first started playing pee-wee football in Oklahoma, he was quickly disabused of those notions.
“I was a big kid so they put me on the line,” he said. When asked how he felt about playing a position in which you don’t get to actually touch the ball, he answered, “I got used to it pretty quick.”
Hirsch loves the game of football, even though he toils in obscurity. The five big guys who put their hands in the dirt in front of the “skill players” of the offensive unit are not identifiable by what they do on an individual, play unless the man they are blocking gets behind them to make a big tackle.
It is the coaching staff that most appreciates the offensive lineman. Briar Woods head coach Charlie Pierce was a Division II All-American center at Shepherd University. He serves as the offensive line coach so when there is a breakdown on the part of one of the five down linemen, “I’m the guy to blame.”
After the Falcons’ 23-22 victory at North Stafford, Pierce told the media, “I almost fired myself [as offensive line coach] a couple times this season.” Truth is, the offensive line probably had its best game of the season at North Stafford, as the running game was productive all evening despite losing two of the three runners who share duties in the rotation during the game.
Pierce appreciates a player who does the work to develop into a productive lineman. “Coach was tough on me my first year on varsity [as a sophomore],” Hirsch said. “I was always falling down when I had to move my feet. He told me I looked I was wearing concrete shoes.”
“I remember that,” said Pierce. “But what I saw in Jon was a young man who wanted to learn, wanted to improve himself. Now he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the area and it’s all because he did the work. I have a lot of respect for him.”
After his junior year, Hirsch was surprised when he was named second team All-Conference. “When Coach called me to tell me, I said ‘Really?’” A typical offensive lineman, Hirsch thinks in terms of the team’s success, not individual accomplishments. Team is what he likes most about football. “I like going into battle with my teammates. With Coach Pierce you feel like you’re part of a brotherhood.”
Hirsch wants to play at the college level and is looking for a place at a Division IAA or Division II school. Offensive coordinator Jared Develli says, “He has the size and strength to play somewhere, but more importantly he has the right attitude. He’s a great teammate and I’ve enjoyed coaching him for three years.”
Article written by Viva Loudoun intern George Khalsa.