BILLINGS — Seth Benge thinks like a football coach.
"It all starts with the line, right? If you have a strong line, you’ll have a strong team," he said.
He would know. The Billings Central Rams center will be a rare three-year starter as a senior this year. His roots go back to a key day in little guy football.
"I started off at tackle," he said, "then one day I missed practice and when I came back, I was moved to center."
Central returns basically its entire offensive line from a 2021 squad that lost in the State A quarterfinals, and that cohesion usually matters more than shear size and power.
"It's all about staying low - lowest man wins," Benge said. "Get under their pads, push up on them and you got it."
"They’re great communicators," head coach Jim Stanton said. "They're the first person you listen to when things aren’t going well."
Stanton knows the line doesn’t get the glory, but watch closely and you’ll see Benge pulling all the strings. He says he doesn't try to influence play-calls in the Rams' run-heavy scheme, but every now and then...
"I’ll tell the QB to audible to something else," he said with a smile.
"(Running) backs and QB’s think they know it all," Stanton added. "Backs can go the wrong way, but it’s the line’s fault. We tell them to get used to that," he laughed.
But all can be forgiven on the next play, when the line springs that same back for a long touchdown run.
"That’s the best feeling ever," Benge said.
Again, he would know.
Billings Central begins the 2022 season at home against Lockwood on Friday, Aug. 26. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the campus of Rocky Mountain College.