McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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November 13, 2012

Savanna line fueled historic run

SAVANNA — By winning a district title, the 2012 Bulldogs accomplished what no Savanna team had in 50 years. The Bulldogs won with their ground game, and five rarely discussed players had as much, if not more, to do with Savanna’s 9-2 season than the running backs: the offensive line.

“We pretty much control where the ball’s going to go,” senior center Bernie Underwood said Friday. “We get a good push up front, (running back) Christian Preston or somebody else out back is going to take it.”

As the center, Underwood was the most vocal member on the offensive line this season. Underwood and fellow senior Gage Brookshire helped integrate first-year starter Ray Hicks, junior Tanner Dugger and sophomore Tanner Brown into a five-man line.

“It’s pretty cool to get to play with kids you’ve known for awhile,” Brown said. “You look up to them, and they’re your friends, and over time they become your brothers.”

Brown played left tackle for the line this season. Because the Bulldogs tended to run on the right side more often, Brown often was responsible for preventing defenders from entering the backfield and chasing down running backs from behind.

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