The guys up front on offense for the Rifle High School football team don't hesitate to explain their role.
"We run the show," junior tight end Tanner Quick said. "We take a lot of pride in this. Yeah, the running backs get all of the credit but if we're not there blocking for them, we wouldn't have as many yards as we do."
That kind of attitude has helped morph the Bears, class 3A's top-ranked team, into the classification's best rushing squad. Following Rifle's 38-7 victory over then-No. 7 Conifer at Bears Stadium this past Friday, the Bears have 2,607 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 277 carries. That ranks Rifle third among all Colorado high schools behind Pueblo West (2,720) and Platte Canyon (2,618) and 86th nationally, according to www.maxpreps.com.
And the Bears have done it with an undersized front line - only two of the six starters tip the scales at 200 pounds or more - which has used speed and technique to help generate that yardage. Of course, they take that lack of size in stride.
"We know the game is decided by what we do up front," said senior left tackle Hugo Ruelas, who tips the scales at 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds. "We know that if we do our job and execute, we'll make things a lot easier for all of the little running backs behind us."
Junior left guard Zach Bare comes in at 5-10, 160 and lines up beside junior center Clayton Coombs (6-0, 190). Joining them on the line with Quick (6-6, 210) is senior right guard Cody Beauford (5-10, 185) and senior right tackle Eli Boone (6-1, 200).
Of course, no one on Rifle's offensive line matches up to senior running back Ryan Moeller (6-0, 215), who leads the state in rushing with 1,633 yards on 137 carries, despite his 75-yard performance against Conifer last week. The Bears, however, rushed for 262 yards as a team and were paced by Kellin Leigh's 157 yards on 10 carries.
That ability to have multiple ballcarriers has carried over from last season, when Rifle averaged 356.5 yards per game during its run to the Class 3A quarterfinals. And Rifle's offensive is also diverse, as everyone on the line is taught multiple blocking schemes for different plays and situations.
That hybrid-player mentality is what Rifle's coaching staff feels has helped lead the Bears to what looks already to be back-to-back successful seasons.
"We joke a lot that if you think you're going to be a fullback when you come up from [Rifle] middle school, you're probably going to be a great offensive lineman," said Rifle offensive line coach John Scrabeck, now in his fourth season on the Bears' staff. "That's the kind of kids we have. They're athletic, they can move, and they get better and better as they go.
"They've all really bought into technique," the coach continued. "It's the reason people like Hugo Ruelas are playing left tackle."
Drive, overall desire and humility have played a big role for Rifle as well. Scrabeck pointed to the unit's want to simply "do its job" on the field, knowing the recognition isn't going to come its way.
"Their attitude is that they know their name isn't going to be in the paper, or that not everybody is going to want to wear their jersey around school next Thursday," Scrabeck said. "They want to do this because, simply put, this is fun."
For the unbeaten Bears, the 2012 season has been a lot of fun.