The Portsmouth Warriors have always prided themselves on a powerful, smash-mouth running game, and this season’s team is no different. It’s all thanks to a rock-solid offensive line, who’s chemistry has been brewing for over a decade.
Long before they were teammates for the Warriors, RJ Mosley and Chad Bennett were teammates on the Portsmouth West football team in 2002. That year, the Senators snuck in to the playoffs with an 8-2 record, earning the second-to-last playoff spot in the region. What followed was one of the most improbable playoff runs in state history, as the Senators knocked off two undefeated teams and arch-rival Portsmouth on their way to an appearance in the state finals.
Bennett, a freshman on the 2002 team, started at defensive end for the Senators.
“It was great, noting like it. It was probably the highlight of my football career,” he said.
Mosley, a senior on the 2002 team, never got the chance to play for the Senators late in the playoff push. He suffered an injury against Portsmouth that he thought ended his football career. Unable to find a doctor to clear him for full workouts, a scholarship to Thomas Moore College was suddenly off the table.
Bennett also thought his athletic career was finished after high school. He had the opportunity to play baseball at a number of local colleges, but chose to join the local carpenters’ union instead.
For the next decade or so, the former teammates stayed in touch, even when Mosley moved to Florida for a few years before returning to his home town. Neither thought they would share the same field again — that is until 2010.
That’s when Mosley met Ricky Witt through a mutual friend. Witt’s new semi-pro football team, the Northeast Kentucky Warriors, were midway through their inaugural season and were looking for an offensive lineman. Mosley was skeptical at first.
“I was a little hesitant. But, I had been working out with my friend and I was in decent shape. I thought I would give it a try,” Mosley said. “I didn’t know what kind of caliber athletes I was going to be playing against, but I came out and held my own.”
Mosley made his debut six games into the Warriors inaugural season. He quickly became a fixture on the Warrior line, and it didn’t take long for him to start recruiting his former teammate. For two years, he hounded Bennett, trying to convince him to give semi-pro football a shot.
Finally, Bennett gave in. He made his debut in 2013 at his old high school position of defensive end, but he wouldn’t be there for long. The Warriors moved him to right offensive tackle a year later, a move that he’s glad he made.
“I played both ways in grade school, but I became more of a defensive player in high school,” he said. “I’ve always been more of a defensive player, but now I might love offense more.”
This season, Mosley and Bennett have proved integral pieces in one of semi-pro football’s most potent rushing attacks. The Warriors have averaged nearly 250 rushing yards a game en route to an undefeated record and the top spot in the AA East National Poll.
Though they won’t receive as much credit for their efforts than their skill position teammates, Mosley and Bennett know how important they are to their team.
“I take a lot of pride in the offensive line. You don’t get noticed much, but if you don’t do your job you’re not going to win,” Bennett said. “They’re not going to announce our name for a touchdown, but we’re blocking for it. It feels good.”
At 30 years old, Mosley isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be able to continue playing. He considered retirement at the end of last season, and an ankle injury caused him to miss a few games earlier this year. But every time he considers walking away, he can’t bear to leave his teammates.
“It’s a family around here,” he said. “You get closer with the people you play with. This is my sixth year playing with the Warriors. You get to know people, and you kind of miss them when you’re not playing.”
Bennett has just one thing on his mind.
“Winning a (league) championship and going to Miami, that’s all that matters really,” he said.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter
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