OLIVE HILL – It looks like a room where offensive linemen would hang out.
In the middle, there’s a red couch with pieces of red faux leather torn off the middle cushion and left arm. There are motivational signs such as “O-Line Pancakes served 24/7” and lockers with nicknames such as “BBB” and “Cookie.”
And to the left of the exit door, you cannot miss the black and gold flag with “Hawg Squad” surrounding a snarling boar’s head.
Welcome to the football domicile for West Carter’s offensive linemen — where center Brent Dailey, guards Gavin Gibson, Sam Rayburn and Canan Barker, and tackles David Reffitt and Chancton Fox — can relax and keep position players out of their domain.
“We got the flag last year,” line coach Jamie Wagner said. “We’ve started coming together as a unit.”
Wagner offers a single-syllable synopsis on the couch’s condition.
“Worn,” Wagner said. “Coach Mike Flannery donated it to us. I think he just wanted it out of his way. Linemen don’t care what we sit on.”
The idea for the Hawg Squad having their own locker room was a piglet last year. West Carter head coach Daniel Barker thinks Dailey and Gibson approached him during exit interviews last spring.
“I loved it,” Barker said. “… They’ve become a family, and they like hanging out with each other. They wanted to take responsibility for half the locker room, so I loved it.”
The starting linemen receive a brick at the end of training camp. Wagner painted them in Comet maroon with a white C, G or T, depending on the position.
“They’re not very pretty,” Wagner said.
There’s a motivational aspect. Each lineman gets one mistake per practice, but if there’s a second, he is “fired” and must hand his brick to his replacement in front of the others.
Another talisman: each lineman has a gray chain link he must carry all the time.
“Bad things happen if I ask for it and they don’t have it,” Wagner said. “We’ve got a drill we named after a previous player that was in trouble a lot. We hold each other accountable, we pick each other up when we need to.”
The sextet has been together at least two years.
Gibson is the smartest Hawg — he scored a 36 on his ACT test. When he found out, he was temporarily deprived of the power of speech as by surprise or confusion.
In a word — dumbstruck.
“I didn’t believe it,” Gibson said. “It just blew my mind. I didn’t know what to say, really.”
Fox is the least experienced Comet — 2018 was his first year of organized football — but Wagner said he started the last three or four games.
Before a July practice, Wagner assigned some homework: find out who their football namesakes — the Washington Redskins’ “Hogs” who were part of three Super Bowl championship teams in 1983, 1988 and 1992 — are. (Center Jeff Bostic, guards Fred Dean, Russ Grimm and Mark May, tackles Joe Jacoby and George Starke, and tight ends Rick Walker and Don Warren were the originals.)
As for the Hawg Squad … “I think that they’re the core of our team, honestly,” Wagner said. “I know we’ve got a lotta skill guys, we’ve got guys that can play. That’s a plus, but I think as we go, our team will go.”
Wagner has promised McDonald’s pancakes for any linemen who flattens his defensive opponent. “I can eat three or four like it’s nothing,” Canan Barker said.
Ask Reffitt what he’d do if he saw a running back, receiver or even starting quarterback Orry Perry dared park their tuchuses on the linemen’s furniture.
“Throw them out,” he said. “They don’t need to be on our couch. It’s our couch — Hawgs only.”