QUINCY -- The pushback wasn't nearly as forceful as the Quincy High School offensive linemen can expect in the coming weeks, but it didn't change what the Blue Devils wanted to do.
They set out to impose their will last Friday night and did so in a dominant way.
In the 58-0 victory over North Lawndale at Flinn Stadium, Quincy averaged 10 yards per carry. It was closer to 15 yards per carry with the starters in the game, none of whom played in the fourth quarter. Some didn't play a single snap of the second half with the Blue Devils already ahead 44-0.
"We were better all together as a team," senior right guard Matthew Dade said. "We have a lot more to be confident about than we may have thought to begin with."
The Blue Devils weren't necessarily lacking confidence, but there were some question marks up front.
Senior left tackle Blake Poling and junior left guard A.J. Miller were the only returning starters, although the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Dade began last season as a starter before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the Week 1 loss to Belleville West. So in essence, the entire right side of the line is new with junior Dion Washington, a transfer from North Carolina, lining up at tackle.
Senior center Rees Treaster is new to the starting lineup, too.
Collectively, they found their rhythm against an overmatched opponent.
"We talked a lot more than we have in the past," Dade said. "We've been practicing talking more and being better as a unit instead of worrying about one person or another."
Their cohesiveness can be tied to sharing the same goal.
"Our guys did what they were asked to do," QHS coach Rick Little said. "We talked about having a plan. That was to get off the football early and punch someone in the mouth."
By doing so, the running lanes opened up.
Senior wingback Jirehl Brock, the Iowa State commit who is less than 500 yards from becoming the program's career rushing leader, averaged 15.3 yards on just six carries. Junior wingback Adonte Crider averaged 28.3 yards per carry with a 50-yard touchdown scamper. And senior quarterback Donovan Prost completed 6 of 8 passes without being pressured.
"I thought the line did a nice job meshing together," Little said. "They made it easy for our guys to get yards."
That task will get tougher, but the Blue Devils are confident they will progress along with the competition.
"We work and work to death at blocking, and we're pretty good at it," Dade said. "But we have to keep being a team. That's the most important thing."
To be a part of it after watching from the sideline last season makes the success sweeter.
"It feels amazing," Dade said. "I missed it so much being out as much as I was last year. To come back in the first game and we come out and do that, it was a great feeling."