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Blocking for the best

ECI o-line clears the way for Ealey

    Washaun Ealey.
    There’s not too many high school football fans around the state — or even the nation — that haven’t heard the name of the record-setting junior at Emanuel County Institute.
    But while Ealey has been busy rushing for more touchdowns in a single season than any other running back in the history of the state, his offensive line quietly opens holes and stuns defenses trying to put a grasp on the elusive Ealey.
    “They’ve been great — what an awesome job they’ve done,” said ECI coach Milan Turner of the o-line. “A lot of people who may not understand the ins-and-outs of football — there’s been two or three games in the playoffs where the opposing team has come out running a completely different defense. For our offensive line to go out there, having prepared for one defense and then to see another, that says a lot about those kids. They’ve done a wonderful job. A lot of credit goes to those guys.”
    Ealey will be the first to credit his line, and Turner said the 53 touchdowns by Ealey is considered a team-record in the locker room.
    “We got a bunch of 300-pounders and they block hard as usual,” said Ealey. “I like being around them. Sometimes will go to the movies or we’ll go over to coach Turner’s house and shoot pool.”
    Ealey also doesn’t shy away from taking a few cheap shots at his boys.
    “I like to pick on ‘em,” he said. “I call ‘em fat. Tell them they better block. They got no choice but to block.”
    Of course, the verbal abuse only makes it difficult on opposing defenses, as the ECI “big uglies” take out their frustration on the other team.
    “He tries to make us mad,” said junior J.C. Lanier. “They’ll be times when we’re practicing and we just want to let JV guys just hit ‘em one time. We’d get in trouble, though.”
    Lanier, along with Chad Turner, Cody Todd, Pat Branch and Clifford Milton, all take pride clearing the way for Ealey.
    “It feels good to block for (Ealey),” said Chad Turner, a senior. “You know if you do your job and you give him holes that he can hit, he’s going to do good and he’s going to put it in the end zone. He’s going to tease a little bit and say that, ‘We can’t block’ and ‘He does it all’, but he really knows that we get out here and do the best for him.”
    Ealey’s 40-yard dash time is a self-proclaimed 4.32 seconds. The junior’s quite proud of the fact, pasting the time under his eyes with eye-black and printing the numbers on his back pads. Lanier said getting out of the way of the Twin City Express wasn’t easy at first.
    “When you block for him you gotta move,” said Lanier, who is ranked in the Top 20 by Scout.com for high school linemen. “If you don’t get out of his way fast enough he’s going to run you over and still keep going. Right now I’m used to blocking for him, but when I first started I got in the way a couple times and I slowed him down half the time. I just had to figure out how to block for him without getting in his way.”
    Ealey, his line and the rest of the Bulldogs (14-0) face Wilcox County Friday at 8 p.m. for the GHSA Class A State Championship game in Cordele, Ga.
    
    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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