Thomas Wink

Ask any local Class 5A coach and they'll likely tell you the same. District 2-5A is a "line of scrimmage" district. 

As such, that's why West Ouachita has held its own in terms of physicality, though it hasn't produced the results West Ouachita fans might've hoped for. Despite going 1-7 in district play since moving up a classification, the Chiefs have rarely been blown off the ball. 

Former West Ouachita head coach Matt Middleton often pointed to opponents' speed advantage as a direct correlation between wins and losses. Because when it comes to the line of scrimmage, Middleton always liked the Chiefs chances. With new leadership in head coach Mike Rainwater, that much remains the same for the 2021 season. 

Players like Thomas Wink are going to give the Chiefs a fighting chance up front. 

"I think we have a chance to be good this year just because there are so many people that are underestimating us," Wink said. "They don't think we'll be good, but we know we will be because of how much work we put in." 

Size and work ethic are almost guaranteed traits of every West Ouachita football team. Both of those characteristics were handed down to Wink from his parents. 

"I look up to my dad (Marvin Wink) because he's had two back surgeries and still works 60-hour weeks as a concrete constructor," Wink said. 

Though the offensive line will be somewhat undersized from years prior, Wink is still a towering 6'4", 325-pound lineman that brings versatility up front. This season Wink is being asked to transition from where he started last year at center to tackle due to the scheme that Rainwater wants to run. 

"The past couple of years we've been very simple up front," Rainwater said. "We didn't run but three running plays. Moving him from center to tackle is going to be a big change because there's a lot more kick sliding. It's a lot more versatility involved, but he's picked it up great. He's been a professional about it. He knows there are things he needs to work on, and he's willing to admit that and work on them." 

Most of the summer has been spent working on footwork. Wink views himself as more of a natural guard or center because he's more comfortable run blocking. The challenges with tackle are going to be pass blocking. 

"I was kind of surprised when they asked me to play tackle because I played center even in the spring," Wink said. "Once (Rainwater) moved me there, though, I figured let's just get after it." 

As far as Wink's future after West Ouachita, that's yet to be determined. University of Arkansas Monticello has shown interest, as well as other smaller colleges. 

"They think he could play guard at the next level, so if he can get a little bit quicker, that will help," Rainwater said. "He's got good feet, but if he can get a little more top end speed, I think he could really play guard somewhere." 

If Wink's high school career is any indicator, you can expect Wink to put his best foot forward in making that happen. Right now his continued development serves a different purpose, though. He and his teammates hope to play the role of spoiler in what has proved to be a rather difficult District 2-5A.

"I'm just getting after it every day," Wink said. "Without that, we won't get anywhere."

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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