Look through the football record books at Prosser High School, and the names of the offensive stars will jump out at you.
Kellen Moore, Cody Bruns, Steve Harris, Kirby Moore, Ivan Merino, Jordan Durbin — they all made their mark with the Mustangs over the years, lighting up the scoreboard with dynamic play.
But they each had something in common — all of them depended on their offensive line to put up big numbers.
“To me, offensive line at Prosser is a glory position. A lot of guys try to crack it, but it’s not easy to get,” said Mustangs coach Benji Sonnichsen, himself a former Prosser quarterback.
This year, Mustangs’ running back Isaiah Sanders is averaging a whopping 9.5 yards a carry, and three quarterbacks have combined for 11 touchdown passes while Prosser has outscored opponents 187-20 through the first three weeks.
At the center of it all are the Fat-Nasties, the self-declared moniker of the Mustangs’ offensive line. From left to right tackle, Jacob Schnellenbach, Jonah Hoefer, Colten Alefteras, Riley Lusk and Wyatt Tolle have been one of the biggest reasons for the team’s success.
“It’s the best offensive line I’ve coached and been a part of in my 13 years coaching here,” Sonnichsen said. “These guys are dominating the line of scrimmage in a big time way.”
Alefteras, or “Alf” for short, is the captain and emotional leader of the group. He and Tolle are three-year starters, while Schnellenbach and Hofer are two-year starters.
It’s a special group, and it’s not just the head coach who thinks so.
“I’ve been thinking the last couple days how I’ve taken these guys for granted because they are so good,” Mustangs offensive line coach John Bell said. “I need to spend a little bit more time hanging with them and giving them more pats on the back.”
Bell, who has coached at Prosser since 1983, has seen quite a few O-lines come and go, but he’s never seen one quite like this.
“When we won state in 1992, a lot of those guys were guys who played the year before. This year, we brought the entire group back,” Bell said. “They have the potential to be very good.”
Depth is another attribute that separates this group from the rest. Behind the starters are four players — A.J. Howe, Anthony Wiley, Logan Pearson or Devin Brown — who could step up and fill in at a moment’s notice, and the offense wouldn’t skip a beat.
In fact, Wiley started 10 games last year but has been bothered by a hamstring injury so far. Brown is a starter at defensive end who Bell has tried luring over to the offensive side. Howe — nicknamed “Big Country” — is the biggest of them all at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds.
But Sonnichsen can’t say enough good things about his front five.
“One day in practice, we were working on our no-huddle, trying to push the tempo. We had all these cute plays but weren’t having any success. Finally, Lusk comes over to me and says, ‘Coach, if you want to start moving the football, just run the football,’ ” Sonnichsen said. “I said, ‘OK, Riley, if you want to call the plays, go ahead.’ He called a zone check, and they scored on the next play.
“He looked at me and said, ‘I told ya.’ ”
Howe said that being a part of the group is like having an extended family.
“That’s the only way to describe it. It’s the next best thing to being blood,” Howe said of his linemates, who often gather in the parking lot before games, listening to music or barbecueing.
The group also dedecated itself to some tough offseason work.
“Every opportunity over the summer we had to get better, we were on it like stink on a skunk,” Howe said. “Trainers, double workouts. We even had a couple of our own get-togethers when we were doing drills.”
Offensive linemen traditionally don’t get a ton of credit, but this group doesn’t feel slighted in the least.
“You don’t see us on the front page, but we feel good, whenever Sanders makes a long run, that we gave him the opportunity to score,” Hoefer said. “We have a favorite play called ‘Red Wedge’, where we all go up there and just yell while we’re blocking. You can hear it from the sideline. Our coaches get a kick out of it.”
The Mustangs’ student body is a big fan of the Fat-Nasties, too. There’s even a t-shirt, but you have to be a member of the club to get one.
“You get a lot of odd looks in public, but you wear it in school and everybody understands,” Howe said.