Those who battle in the trenches on the gridiron are seldom noticed during the flurry of activity on each snap from scrimmage.
Inconspicuous for the most part unless they jump off sides or are whistled for a holding penalty, offensive linemen are football’s unsung heroes, opening holes for running backs to grab the headlines or protecting the quarterback long enough to complete a pass to one of the fleet wide receivers.
Ultimately, victory or defeat begins with the players who man these positions, however. Panther lineman Malik Giddens is one of these trench warriors who has earned Athlete of the Week honors for his exceptional play.
“We are averaging around 250 yards per game rushing and also have a limited number of sacks for the year,” said O’Fallon High head coach Brandon Joggerst. “These exceptional numbers are a direct correlation to our offensive line and, particularly Malik Giddens, who has been a mainstay in our offensive scheme for the past three years.”
Giddens, the son of Charles Giddens and Sherry Smith, has been a key performer for the Panthers since moving into the starting lineup.
“I play football because it’s fun and a good way to stay in shape,” said the OTHS senior. “I began playing football when I was around 9 years old living in Arkansas. I think I got started because of watching it on television and also because of my dad.
“My success can be attributed to my mom and dad. When I was younger, they put an emphasis on giving 100 percent effort,” Giddens added. “Participating in football has made it easier for me to approach things in life because the hard work that I’ve gone through in order to accomplish my goals.”
Gidden’s ability and tenacity began to catch the eye of opposing coaches who voted the then-OTHS junior to the first team All-Southwestern Conference squad last fall. According to Joggerst, his veteran lineman has continued to make an impact.
“Malik is our steadiest performer across the front line,” Joggerst said. “He plays hard on every snap and constantly studies film to improve his craft. He is our anchor — someone we rely on to make our offense work.”