Before fans look ahead to a state championship, a glance in the rearview mirror is in order.
Prior to the season opener, the Plainview Indians’ right guard took upon himself a leadership role.
“I really need to step up this year, more than I have in the last couple of years, to be a leader to the other guys as well,” senior Jon Wright said on Aug. 25, a day before the Indians played Broken Bow.
Four games prior to the final game of the season, Wright thinks he accomplished his objective.
“I’ve really tried to inspire them,” Wright said. “I’ve taken charge when it needs to be taken. I feel like it is my responsibility to keep them up, keep them going and, even when things look rough, just to keep pushing and keep going harder just to give them inspiration to keep going.”
The message is effective.
“Jon, in my opinion, has been one of the best leaders we have on this team,” Taylor Johnson said. Him, Daren and Bracken, they’ve all stepped up, led me and Brett (Henry) really well. They’re huge reasons why we’re here today.”
No offense goes anywhere without its offensive line. To wit, a noteworthy piece of information: Fellow seniors Daren Benham and Bracken Campell align themselves on opposite sides of Wright. Benham — the left tackle — and Campbell — the center — comprise the right side of the Indians’ line.
The switch is another significant reason Plainview will play for a Class 3A state championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Moore Schools Stadium.
Plainview coach Joe Price flipped Johnson — a junior — from left guard to left tackle. Conversely, Henry — also a junior — moved from tackle to guard. Price initiated the change before the Indians’ third game, against U.S. Grant.
“The switch was easy because I’ve played that position before,” Johnson said. “For Brett, it’s a little bit of a challenge but everybody’s helping him and he’s getting it down fast because he’s a smart learner at that position.
“I feel like that was the best switch for the whole team because I’m a little bit more athletic than Brett so I can get outside faster and he’s a big body so he can block pretty good in the middle.”
Explaining the switch prior to Plainview’s Week 2 playoff game against Douglass, Price estimated that “Taylor’s 6-foot-3, 285 pounds and Brett’s 6-foot-4” and about 300 pounds.
Furthermore, Wright said Johnson and Henry have “helped each other a lot more than I could because it takes those two to communicate with each other to fix the problems that they have.”
An offensive lineman himself, Price believes the line has progressed as the months arrive — then elapse.
“That position is so much about communication and knowing what the guy next to you is going to do,” the second-year coach said. “It’s a group that, at the beginning of the season, they’d go to work and really do a good job to continue to grow. It’s a position that usually does continue to get better as the season goes along.”
Health plays a vital role in continuity, which, in turn, often begets improvement. The Indians’ unit, for the majority of the season, has few major injuries about which to worry.
Not listed in the program for the Broken Bow game, Price commended Eli Russ for his play against Lone Grove.
“In all my years of coaching, that’s pretty much how it goes,” Price continued. “A lot of it doesn’t necessarily depend on talent. It just kind of depends on your kids’ commitment to getting better. These guys have done a good job.”