It may not be the flashiest, but it's arguably the most necessary.

No, they're not going to rush for 1,800 yards or find a receiver that makes a tip-toe catch at the pylon. What they will do is make all that possible. They'll create the hole, they'll protect the pocket for the quarterback to make that throw.

They're offensive linemen and the depth Colorado has at the position is unbelievable. And it will be for the foreseeable future.

"The talent this year is very deep in the younger ranks," said former NFL offensive lineman Matt McChesney, owner of Six Zero Strength, which trains many of the top linemen in the state. "I think the state of Colorado is very deep with big guys, especially offensive linemen."

Take the 1,590 yards Highlands Ranch's Kobe Eller rushed for in 2016.

"Pretty much any running back in the state would love to run behind this line," Highlands Ranch coach Mark Robinson said. "You'd have to be crazy not to want to run behind them."

Eller had Austin Johnson, Drake Nugent and Jaden Walker creating holes and taking defenders multiple yards up the field.

"Austin Johnson might be the best player in the state of Colorado," McChesney said. "He's a fifteen-year-old grown man. He thinks differently, he acts differently. (Nugent) is the same way. They're best friends, they feed off of each other.

"Both of those kids are absolute freaks, and the work ethic of both of them is just ridiculous. That's what sets them apart."

Robinson spoke on Walker and his role with the Falcons.

"Jaden Walker, he's at center, guard combination," Robinson said. "I don't think there's a better one in the state of Colorado."

As for leadership, Robinson said Nugent is more of a vocal leader than Johnson and Walker.

"Drake is more of the vocal leader," Robinson said. "Austin Johnson is a leader, just through his actions. They're both very explosive off of the ball."

Robinson added on the three linemen, "You put those three together, what it gives us is a lot of confidence having those guys in front of them."

Johnson, Nugent and Walker lead in a different way. They lead in the weight room, they lead with their work ethic.

Valor Christian Grandview Football generic

(Renee Bourcier/

"What they really do is they push you in the weight room. They're great weight room leaders," Robinson said. "It pushes the rest of the team. They just go to work. I call them 'bring your lunch pale' type guys."

For No. 9-ranked Highlands Ranch, the strength of the team lies in that offensive line.

"As far as our biggest strength, I would say, definitely our offensive line," Robinson said. "You can break it right down and pinpoint it to that. A really solid offensive line."

The athletes at offensive line across the state span from Mullen's Florian McCann III, a CSU committ, to Air Force committ Blake Carrette.

"(Carrette) is a very multidimensional player that plays tackle for Mike Campbell at Arapahoe," McChesney said. "He's one of my guys in here that's been grinding for almost three years for his opportunity."

Said McChesney on McCann III: "He's really a damn fine player, big body."

McChesney, an alum of Niwot High School who played at CU, is excited about this wealth of talent, which should say a lot coming from a former NFL offensive lineman.

"Gavin Singer is a big tackle at Columbine," McChesney said. "He might be the nastiest guy in the state. Very versatile, he can play right tackle, guard, center. It's just a matter of time before the Mountain West or a Power 5 school gets a hold of him."

Eaglecrest has a 6-foot-6, 265-pound lineman in Barrett Miller.

"(Miller) is very fluid, heavy hands, good feet, super athlete and great hips," McChesney said. "He's a huge prospect at Eaglecrest. He's another nasty one. I always have to tell him we can't hurt people in the gym, and to back off."

McChesney spoke on the offensive line talent that Cherry Creek has with Mike Lynn and Carson Lee.

"(Lynn has) an extremely good punch, violent hands," McChesney said on the six-foot-seven, 300 pound tackle. "He works five days religiously on top of what he does at Cherry Creek."

"(Lee) is just born nasty. He's got three more years to develop. The sky is the limit for Carson, he's got big legs, broad shoulders."

There's returning first team all-stater Max Bruner at Ponderosa, Jacob Wilton at Brighton and many more.

McChesney builds a family with these big linemen and often utilizes the phrase, "Dungeon Family."

"When I say Dungeon Family, it's truly a family," McChesney said. "I have your back, you have my back. You're going to sell out for me, I'm going to sell out for you.

"Family holds eachother accountable, family helps eachother, family has eachother's back."

These linemen will be able to showcase their true talent on the field starting on Thursday, the beginning of Zero Week.

Big-school football preview

Important dates

  • Regular season begins: Aug. 24 (Zero Week); Aug. 31 (Week 1)
  • Playoffs begin: Nov. 12

State championships:

  • 5A/4A: Dec. 2, Mile High Stadium
  • 3A: Dec. 2, home site

Defending champions:

Preseason No. 1 teams:

  • 5A: Valor Christian
  • 4A: Pine Creek
  • 3A: Pueblo East

Returning all-state players:

  • 5A:
    • First team: Max Borghi, Pomona, RB/CB, Sr.; Victor Garnes, Eaglecrest, RB/CB, Sr.; Jake Heimlicher, Regis Jesuit, DE, Sr.; Dimitri Stanley, Cherry Creek, WR/CB, Sr.; A jon Vivens, Mullen, WR/CB, Sr.
    • Second team: Gunner Gentry, Grandview, WR, Sr.; Luke McCaffrey Valor Christian, QB/DB, Jr.; Barrett Miller, Eaglecrest, DE/OT, Jr.
  • 4A:
    • First team: Marcell Barbee, Pueblo South, Sr.; Maxwell Bruner, Ponderosa, G/NG, Sr.; Griffin Moss, Chatfield, DT/DE, Sr.; Brandon Ramirez, Windsor, WB/KR, Sr.; Isaak Rolfe, Pine Creek, DE, Sr.
    • Second team: Jesse Bridge, Sand Creek, K/P, Sr.; Steve Brock, Pueblo South, RB, Sr.; Payton Dietrich, Wheat Ridge, RB/LB; Mason Knighton, Ponderosa, OT/DE, Sr. Christion Louis, Pine Creek, DT, Sr.; Jayden Manu, Loveland, OL, Sr.; Devyn Morgan, Pueblo West, RB; Quinton Ostdahl, Ponderosa, RB/LB; Sterling Ostdahl, Ponderosa, QB, Sr.; Zach Watts, Windsor, DT/OT
  • 3A:
    • First team: Nathan Mackey, Mead, RB, Sr.; Trey McBride, Fort Morgan, TE/DE, Sr.
    • Second team: Ty Evans, Palmer Ridge, QB/FS, Jr.; Austin Hassler, Longmont, LB, Sr.; Gavin Mestas, Durango, WR/FS, Sr.; Stone Samaras, Holy Family, QB, Jr.; Derrick Smashum, Vista Peak Prep, QB, Sr.; Sean Willden, Holy Family, OL/DL, Sr.