There are many factors that have played a role in the Streeters’ success on the gridiron this year. But perhaps the biggest reason is the big boys down in the trenches.

The offensive and defensive line have performed admirably this season on both sides of the ball, and it has resulted in the Streeters winning four of their first six games in a season where expectations weren’t exactly sky-high, considering the team graduated so many players off last year’s squad.

“It might be the most important part of an offense and defense,” said head coach Brian Riley. “Games and seasons can usually be determined by the ability of our linemen. We have a great group of junior and senior linemen right now and that is starting to show.”

The line consists of starting tackles Devin Thielen and Seth Tschida, guards Wilder Kuhlmann and Derick Wessel and center Alex Kowski. Thielen, Tschida and Kowski are seniors.

So far this season they, along with tight ends Royal Weber and Cade Neubert, have led to a Streeter ground game that averages almost seven yards a carry. On Friday against Minnewaska, quarterback Casey Schirmers threw for four touchdown passes and broke the school record for yards in a game with 314, which overshadowed Sauk’s running prowess that saw them gain 240 yards on 34 carries. It was the solid ground game that helped open up throwing channels for Schirmers to connect with his receivers.

Through six games, Streeter runners have carried the ball 226 times for 1,565 yards. The leading runner is Dylan Haskamp, who said, “The guys up front have played excellent and have been a huge part of our success. They don’t get enough credit. They have opened up some big holes to run through all season and boy has it been fun so far.”

The linemen possess a unique combination of size, skill and strength. Tschida, Thielen and Kowski are returning starters and Kuhlmann and Wessel saw action last year, but are now starters who have made a solid impact. Defensively, they have been able to control the line of scrimmage and are fundamentally sound when it comes to tackling.

Riley credits offensive line coach Spencer Carpenter, a former lineman for the Streeters who also played college football.

“A lot of credit for how our line is playing goes to Spencer Carpenter,” said Riley. “He has done a great job getting them ready every week.”

Riley is also a former lineman. He stresses that his linemen know their assignments.

“If a guy knows where he is supposed to go and who it is he has to block they play fast,” he said.

Kowski said the group is “very close.”

“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we can help each other out,” he said.

Kowski said game experience has helped the group become more successful, and said on every running play they are looking to break one of their runners free on a long run.

“Our objective on offense is to get off the ball and get to the linebackers,” he said. “Big runs don’t happen because we just block the linemen, they happen because we make the blocks on the linebackers.”

Defensively, he said it’s about staying low and getting off the blocks.

“When we stay low and get through, that is when you see the quarterback panic and make a bad pass or get sacked,” he said.

Kowski also credited coach Carpenter for developing the line to become a game-changing group.

“As hard as he pushes us in practice we know it helps in the long run,” he said. “He has worked with each of us to see what we can do to best help the team.”

Playing on both sides of the ball may have been a concern in years past, but the group has proven they are able to play four quarters of football. Part of that is due to their dedication to conditioning and offseason weightlifting.

“We have some really hard workers on our team, both linemen and skill guys,” said Coach Riley. “They never complain about conditioning because they know how important it is. It may not always be fun to be a great conditioned team but it does pay off on Fridays.”

Riley said the dedication to the weight room may be the biggest factor in their success.

“Their strength is their strength,” he said. “We have nine linemen that have spent a ton of time in the weight room and it is paying off. Their work ethic is great both on the field and off.”

Yes, linemen do the dirty work and don’t often get the credit they deserve. But it is clear that without this group of committed linemen, this year’s Streeter squad wouldn’t have the success they have enjoyed so far.

“I really think the biggest part of our team’s success is our team chemistry,” said Kowski. “We are all close and we can count on each other when we need help. This team is really something special.”