By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, September 5, 2009
At 6 feet 6, 247 pounds, Oakton senior offensive lineman Nick Koutris towered above the rest of his teammates as he howled through his face mask, slapped his chest pads and high-fived and chest-bumped all takers as the Cougars strutted to midfield for a warmup session prior to last night's 14-0 home victory over crosstown rival Madison in the season opener for both schools.
Koutris's swagger was a preview of the kind of football the No. 3 Cougars expect to play this season. He and the four other starting linemen to return as seniors from last year's 13-1 state semifinal squad -- Sam Strauss, Jonathan Hart, Austin Mayhugh and Trevor Yarnall -- showed flashes of last year's dominance, at times brutally owning the trenches, dominating the line of scrimmage and creating vast running lanes as Oakton manhandled its way to 330 yards of total offense and its second straight Outback Bowl victory.
The linemen "just know how to work as a unit, they know how to pick up blitzes, stunts, and they play off each other," Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said. "They have a sixth sense for each other."
The front five, which averages 220 pounds, sprung junior running back Luke Willis (74 yards) and protected junior quarterback Jimmy Boone -- a 6-foot finesse passer who amassed 148 yards passing and 73 yards rushing in his first varsity start. However, the Cougars were penalized 11 times for 85 yards.
According to Thompson, all five linemen are garnering college recruiting interest.
"We know the winning formula, we just have to put the work in to get back to that game 15," Koutris said.
Boone capped a six-play second quarter drive with a well-blocked screen pass to Willis, who reeled in the offering with a one-handed grab and streaked down the left sideline for a 7-0 lead. Boone added a one-yard plunge to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead before the half.