Earlier in the season, I wrote a story about Cole Porter breaking the school career rushing record. As I re-read the story after I posted it, I noticed I didn’t give the offensive line any love. This story is my attempt to rectify that situation. In particular, I would like to focus on the three senior offensive lineman who have been blowing open holes for Porter to run through over the last three seasons. That trio consists of Levi Littell, Chase Nolan and Connor Rosen.
Littell’s career began early in his high school days as he was inserted into the starting line-up at left tackle in the eighth game of his freshman season against Shadyside. He has been a mainstay at the position throughout all four seasons as a Big Red. Nolan and Rosen are both in their third year as starters and they have proven their versatility as they have moved up and down the line wherever they are needed. Nolan has seen time at both guard positions as well as center. Rosen has seen most of his time at right tackle but has filled in at right guard when needed.
I reached out to Porter and asked him what the offensive line, and those three young men in particular, have meant to him during his playing career. “They mean a lot. It’s really nice to have guys there that have been there with you for awhile and want to win just as bad as you do. They’ve been working extremely hard these past few years. I also have a ton of trust and faith in them to get the job done after what I’ve seen them do on and off the field including lifting, watching film and practice. They are great guys and they always have my back when we’re out on the field. I’m so glad to have these guys who are so committed to the concept of team and I look forward to finishing our careers together as Big Reds.”
Since the offensive line are always a bunch of unknowns, I thought it might be nice to get to know these three with a little question and answer session.
Who are some Big Reds you looked up to as a younger kid?
Littell: Josh Sabinski because I felt like he was a great leader.
Nolan: My brother, Collin Nolan, was someone I have always looked up to. He never really played varsity but one trait I always admired was how he never gave up when the going got tough. Spencer Badia was another big one. His love for the game and high motor are something that I try to put into my game now.
Rosen: As a kid, I always looked up to the big guys because I knew I wanted to be them one day. I never got to see him play but I always heard stories about my cousin Bubba Nolan. I’ve been told countless stories about how he would just completely lay someone out but my favorite part was the one where he had a cast on his arm and used it as a “weapon” to his advantage. That story taught me that even though you may be hurt that you can still tough it out and play. Another person is Joey Galloway. I can remember watching highlights of his on YouTube as a kid and being completely blown away by how fast he was and the fact he was recruited by Ohio State. The man was crazy good and he once played where I play.
Who are some influential youth coaches you looked up to?
Littell: My father because he was and still is always there to push me to do my best.
Nolan: Mike Sechrest is a huge one. He really instilled the Big Reds mentality in me. My dad is another. He never played sports in high school but he sat back, watched and learned so that he could help me get to the next level. He has taught me so much throughout my athletic career both on and off the field.
Rosen: Back in the day, I played flag football with Q (Quentin Baker) and AJ (McCarthy). We had a coach by the name of “Coach JuJu”. The next year he went on to coach Warriors and wanted the three of us to play for his team. Even though we were a tad young to play for his team we did. He personally called my mom to convince her to let me play tackle football. He was an all-around great coach. Everyone that remembers him will tell you he’s a great person. I don’t know if I would be playing football today if it wasn’t for him.
What’s your favorite part about being a lineman?
Littell: Getting to run through people.
Nolan: All the blood, sweat and tears that go into becoming a lineman. The grind is something I can’t get enough of. The “all guts no glory” mentality made me realize that it’s bigger than getting your name in the paper for a touchdown, making a good catch or having a good run. Another spot that I feel deserves as much recognition as lineman are the fullbacks. They block more than they run the ball and they deserve the same glory we get when the line plays good. Two guys who have really done an excellent job at that position and deserve recognition in my opinion are Trace Sechrest and Cody Albaugh.
Rosen: The fact that you line up in front of someone who has one goal which is to beat you. When you’re a lineman, you get into a “fist fight” with someone on each and every play and the man who wins is the man who worked harder over the offseason/week leading up to the game. I also like pancaking people too.
Who are some unsung teammates over the years who make you work harder in practice?
Littell: Timmy O’Grady and Ryan Muklewicz always go their hardest in practice to make us starters better.
Nolan: The three main guys who stick out for me that make me work harder in practice are Ryan Muklewicz, Timmy O’Grady and Vince Patrone. They go hard day in and day out and that has helped make me the player I am today. I thank them for pushing me relentlessly.
Rosen: The three players who stand out for me are Ryan Muklewicz, Luke Farmer and Timmy O’Grady. They work their butts off every day at practice to help their teammates out. Ryan and I are great friends. We work out together in the weight room and he always pushes me to get more weight up or get that one last rep in without quitting. Luke worked his butt off over the offseason to get stronger and it shows big time. He started a few games next to me on the strong side. Timmy hasn’t gotten to start yet but he played in the River game when our center was injured and he played great. When I get in a stance and see Timmy across from me in practice, I know I’m gonna feel the hit until at least the next play.
Name one thing about yourself outside of football that most people don’t know about you?
Littell: I have a big heart.
Nolan: I’m a strong believer in Christ! I have a passion for learning about him and his ways. I try to be a better Christian man like my lord wants me to be each and every day. I give all the glory to him.
Rosen: I love to fish. My favorite is catfishing. There is just something about sitting there by the river with a pole or two in the water with my buddies or girlfriend while telling dumb stories about football, camping or what we want to do with our lives. It is my happy place because even if you don’t catch anything you can say you had a good time.
What are the top three memories in your playing career so far?
Littell: 1) Playing Newark Catholic in the playoffs my freshman year. 2) Beating Martins Ferry in the playoffs last season. 3) Hearing the crowd sing the fight song after we score touchdowns.
Nolan: 1) Making the playoffs my freshman year. I never played that year but it had an effect on me that would help make me who I am today. 2) Beating Ferry last year in the playoffs. After getting beat that bad the week before, we had something to prove to and for our town. 3) The 3OT game last week against Cambridge. After a hard-fought game, the team and I dug deep and pulled out a victory.
Rosen: 1) When we traveled to Martins Ferry last season in the playoffs. 2) The 3OT game against Cambridge. As Porter was lining up for the game-winning PAT in the third overtime, David Lynch told Coach Spig, “listen Coach, when Porter makes this PAT, Connor and I are going to tackle you. I swear to God so be ready.” Cole makes the kick and Lynch and I tackled him as everybody was screaming. 3) My sophomore year against Buckeye Local. A play called Eight Toss was called in. Cody Albaugh, who was playing tight end at the time, asks me who I am blocking on the play. I looked at him and said, “Cody, bro I have no idea who do you have?” He looked at me and said, “no clue” so I said “let’s just block someone.” The ball was snapped and Porter runs it in for about a 20-yard touchdown. Cody and I celebrated in complete disbelief. We still talk about that play to this day.
Years from now, when your teammates look back on their days playing football with you, how do you want them to remember you?
Littell: I want them to look back and think of me as a leader and a motivator.
Nolan: I want my teammates to look back and remember me as a person who put 110% on the field, was a leader by example and would do anything he had to do to make sure we won each and every day.
Rosen: I want my teammates to remember me at the best damn lineman to ever come out of Bellaire High School. I’ve had a couple of different friends play with me on the right side and I want them to think, “Man I’m sure glad I played with Connor Rosen. He was such a good player.”
Finish this sentence. I will consider this season a success when ………….
Littell: we beat St. Clairsville, Shadyside and Martins Ferry.
Nolan: we beat the three biggest teams on our schedule whom are St. Clairsville, Shadyside and Martins Ferry.
Rosen: we beat St. Clairsville, Shadyside and Martins Ferry.