Lincoln tight end-linebacker Jose Medina remembers heading over to the sideline for a rare moment of rest after a leading a defensive stand in last week’s Turkey Bowl when he heard the noise come from the crowd.
Running back David Henderson had just broken a long touchdown run on the first play of the Mustangs’ ensuing drive, meaning it was time to for Medina to grab his helmet, get back on the field to help his team pick up the two-point conversion.
"I was exhausted and kind of hoping I’d get a few plays off," Medina, a senior, said with a smile after the game. "But then I figured this is my last Turkey Day, I might as well play the whole thing."
Lincoln (10-2) earned one more game after beating Lowell 29-22 on Thanksgiving for the San Francisco Section title and will now face Oakland Section champion McClymonds
(9-2-1) in the inaugural Transbay Bowl today at 4 p.m. at Laney College.
And Medina (who essentially serves as an additional tackle on offense) and the rest of the Lincoln lineman will likely be on the field for nearly all of it.
Like most Academic Athletic Association programs, a lack of depth forces many of the Mustangs’ linemen pull double duty as key members of both the offense and defense. But few units have had as much success as the Mustangs, who paved the way for Henderson’s 2,098 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns and also controlled the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball.
"We’re not at that point yet as a program where we have the depth [for different offensive and defensive units]," Lincoln coach Phil Ferrigno said. "But I kind of like it that way. It seems like the kids we have don’t want to come off the field."
Medina and fellow tight end Michael Clayton help seal the outside while run blocking on offense and are also Lincoln’s top pass rushers (combining for 20 sacks this season) defensively. And lineman Ricky Ohlssen,Steven Gallardo, Marquise Lewis, Greg Foote and David Garcia have worked hard on their conditioning to make sure they’re still strong once the fourth quarter rolls around.
"Our conditioning is excellent," Garcia said. "We lift weights every day and run a lot. … And I’ve seen when we keep gaining yards, eventually a defense will crack and give up a big run because they just don’t want to play anymore."
The line often stays late at practice, lifting weights, doing drills or enduring the occasional schematic pop quiz from position coach John McDonald.
And according to Garcia, the physical demands of playing both ways actually can provide a mental edge.
"On defense, you kind of learn how to read a lineman when he’s trying to block you," Garcia said. "And on offense, you know to stay on people as long as you can and work to not let them slide off."