Elijah Zabludoff

St. John Bosco center Elijah Zabludoff (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Editor’s note: Elijah Zabludoff is a senior football player from St. John Bosco High and an aspiring journalist. Each week during the high school football season, he will be blogging about his personal experiences and also his thoughts about prep sports in general. Zabludoff is a returning starter at center for the Braves, who are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the Southland by the Los Angeles Times.

The time has come to glorify the heart and soul of any good team: the offensive line.  Now, I may be biased because I am an offensive lineman, but the five hogs up front win and lose games for teams.

Every week before the game, the St. John Bosco offensive line huddles up and breaks it out the same way: “Family on three.”

Being in the trenches separates us from every other position. We are the real gladiators, the actual warriors. We grind all week long and sacrifice our bodies so all the skill position players can soak up the glory.

Being an offensive lineman is a bittersweet thing actually; if we do well, we don’t get too much recognition. But the second we make a mistake, it’s like the world is coming to an end.

Every Friday night, I’m going into battle with brothers I know won’t quit. Surrounding me are 300-pound machines: Matthew Katnik, Emery Sefo, Damien Mama, Javier De Los Santos, Zach Robertson and Eric Golston. Any combination of five among those guys is a tough and physical unit. The four linemen surrounding me make me feel safe, like nothing can get to me or beat us.

Up front, the Braves have some crazy size. For linemen, size matters, and we utilize it to be physical and overwhelm people. However, our size would not matter if we didn’t put in the work we do. Monday through Thursday, we grind with each other during early-morning weightlifting and running. We push each other harder everyday so we can be better than the next group of five.

If one of us feels like skipping a rep or play, the rest of us hold him accountable. We have this thing we say to each other if we’re tempted to quit: “Be perfect.” It’s a guilt card, but it works wonders.

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On Friday night, the St. John Bosco Braves defeated the Tesoro Titans, 55-7. It was a very physical game up front that featured some highlight performances by our skill position players. It was a very cold night at Long Beach Veterans Stadium, but a great, fun win for the Braves.

This week, the Braves take on the Alemany Warriors in a CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division semifinal. This is the second time in the last few years these programs have met on the football field. It’s going to be another cold, hard-fought game in Mission Hills, and it should be a fun one to watch.