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2016 Football Training Camp Series: Saugus High

Sophomore Nathan Tripp will anchor the Centurions’ offensive line to open the 2016 season

Posted: August 22, 2016 11:08 p.m.
Updated: August 22, 2016 11:08 p.m.
Saugus High’s center Nathan Tripp takes part in an offensive drill at the Centurions’ practice Monday. Tripp, a sophomore, is slated to start at center for Saugus top open the 2016 season. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze Saugus High’s center Nathan Tripp takes part in an offensive drill at the Centurions’ practice Monday. Tripp, a sophomore, is slated to start at center for Saugus top open the 2016 season. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze
Saugus High’s center Nathan Tripp takes part in an offensive drill at the Centurions’ practice Monday. Tripp, a sophomore, is slated to start at center for Saugus top open the 2016 season. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze
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Nathan Tripp has always been a fundamentally sound offensive lineman since he started competing in football in sixth grade. He’s balanced imposing strength with impressive footwork to start at every level at which he has competed.

But the Saugus High sophomore has never desired to be a central figure up front, often content to play guard despite his continued improvement at center.

When the 5-foot, 10 ½-inch, 280-pound Tripp joined the varsity roster this season, even with four upperclassmen surrounding him on the offensive line, Saugus coach Jason Bornn was clear in his choice to handle the snaps in the Centurions’ spread offense.

“When I started in sixth grade, they put me at center, but I couldn’t snap in shotgun so we did it under center and we won the championship that year, and then the next year I was also at center and we did shotgun again and I got better at it,” Tripp said. “I moved to left guard in eighth grade, but freshman year they put me back to center and I really succeeded. When they moved me up to varsity, I didn’t want to be a center again because I don’t like snapping and blocking, so I went to guard and then they moved me back to center, so I’ve stuck with it ever since.”

Following the graduation of Kerner Mark, who signed with Coe College in Iowa, the Centurions will rely on seniors David Lemus and Jeff Lytle, along with juniors Christopher Christensen and Richard Meza in their protection of first-year quarterbacks Nathan Eldridge and Elijah Gragas.

“I’m pretty happy with the players we’ve got on the line,” Bornn said. “We’ve got two seniors and two juniors around Nathan and we’ve got seven or eight guys we can rotate in, so that kind of depth definitely helps.”

But Tripp will shoulder a significant responsibility in anchoring a line that will be instrumental in Saugus’ up-tempo attack, which saw its first live action in Friday’s scrimmage against Burbank.

“A key thing that our offense needs to do to be successful is to run plays really fast, get back to the line and run another play off and be aggressive and play hard all the way through the whistle,” Tripp said. “Our relationship on the offensive line has really improved from where we started because we’re closer as a unit and we just work really well together.”

Although Tripp was hesitant at first to be thrust into such a prominent role as the only sophomore projected to start for the Centurions, just like he was inspired to improve his shotgun snapping in youth football, he is again motivated to embrace the challenge and help Saugus challenge for a Foothill League title.

“It has been a great honor for me that my coach has chosen for me to start as a sophomore coming up and I’ve taken the role seriously and it just means a lot to me. I just try every day to make sure that our offense succeeds this season,” Tripp said. “It is a lot of pressure to take on and bare myself, but I feel that I can do it, if I just keep my mind to it.”

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