Meet “Big” Ben Taylor
By John Ring
The Zephyr, Galesburg
I love interviewing football linemen.
They always have something to say because they never get any attention. They are often overlooked and under appreciated. They work hard and are big guys.
Not that there’s many big guys on the Silver Streak football team.
Ben Taylor is one of them. At 6’3” and 285 pounds, Big Ben is an offensive left tackle. “I’m the second or third biggest on the team,” said Taylor after a Streaks practice on Saturday. “Jordan Warner, he’s the biggest. He’s like 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds.”
Big Ben (I can call him Big Ben because were buds now) understands his role with the Silver Streaks and the anonymity of being a lineman. “The best feeling an offensive lineman can get is when your running back scores and he comes up to you and pats you on the helmet and tells you ‘good job.’ Our running backs do that, they’re good guys, all of them.”
“If you make a great block that allows your running back to score, most fans don’t see it. Your teammates don’t see it. You know you made a great block but you get satisfaction from your teammate recognizing you. Linemen shouldn’t expect attention. I know that I don’t personally expect any so it’s nice when it happens.”
Taylor and his offensive line will be blocking for some speedy running backs, who are the strength of this 2007 football team. Ricky Diggins , Zack Boehme and Rayvon Taylor are several of those “good guys” that are counting on Big Ben.
As practice ended, the Streaks ran sprints and the Good Guys were doing it effortlessly. The big guys like Taylor labored but gave it a hundred per cent on a blistering hot day. “When you’re a big guy it makes a difference,” said Taylor about the sprints. “You go as hard as you can. Our coaches are great about monitoring our water breaks and looking out for us.
Now a senior, Taylor has been in the Silver Streak program for all three years at GHS. He hopes this team doesn’t make the same mistake the team from 2006 did. “Our big mistake last year was making a goal of winning five games. We figured if we won five games it would put us in the playoffs. Forget winning five games. We want to make the playoffs no matter how many wins it takes.”
Taylor sees two intangibles that will help Galesburg achieve that goal, despite having probably the smallest roster in the Western Big 6. “Having a coach here during the off season helped us a lot. You need that at the high school level and having Coach [Wes] Olson here helped out a lot. The other thing is our work ethic. Really, the best thing about this team is the work ethic. Last year, the coaches had to holler at us at times to pick it up. They don’t have to do that this year.”
Big Ben will primarily play offense— “That’s where I’m needed, although I’ll play defensive tackle but it would depend on thew situation. I’ll play anywhere the coach wants me to in any situation. Football is the best team sport because you have eleven players out there working as one unit. That’s why it’s so great to play this game.”
Size is often over-rated at the high school level, anyway. (That’s easy for me to say because I don’t have to line up against someone a hundred pounds bigger than me.) But fact is, there have been years where the Silver Streaks, on average, were taller and heavier than many of the lines they went up against. One of those years, they finished 0-9.
And it was just two years ago that another Galesburg newspaper did a big article on the size of Galesburg’s line, about how many three-hundred pounders they had. Trouble was, they couldn’t run and couldn’t block and speedy Silver Streak backs were splattered on the turf as they attempted to turn the corner and go upfield.
Now it’s Big Ben’s turn. And the Big Guys and the Good Guys will have a happy marriage on Van Dyke Field for the upcoming season.