University of Maine offensive lineman Mike Gerace during a recent Black Bears scrimmage in Orono, Maine. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

The line of scrimmage is a violent zone during a football game.

Offensive linemen, many weighing over 300 pounds at the collegiate level, are either trying to move a defensive lineman out of the way or protect their quarterback.

There’s fierce contact on every play — the perfect recipe for injury.

University of Maine graduate student center Mike Gerace has been battling in those trenches for five years, incurring countless injuries while playing center, guard and tackle.

But he’ll reach a rare milestone for such a physical position when he lines up on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Colgate University in UMaine’s home opener, as it will be the UMaine captain’s 36th consecutive game.

“To have played in 35 consecutive games is an insane number,” said UMaine senior tight end Shawn Bowman. “And I think he has something like three braces on his knees. Talk about a tough, hard-nosed player.”

Gerace called his resolve “part of the game” and that he motivates himself through the bumps and bruises by not wanting to let his team down.

“It’s impressive,” said senior wide receiver Zavier Scott. “I have seen him play through some hardships. It’s always good to have someone on the team like that.”

In addition to his physical responsibilities, Gerace also calls out the line assignments on each play.

“He is important,” said senior quarterback Joe Fagnano. “He makes my job easier and he makes it easier for the running backs, too.”

Gerace was primarily a defensive linemen at John Carroll High School in Bel Air, Maryland, although he did see some limited time on the offensive line.

“I came in here and put some weight on to make the transition to the offensive line,” Gerace said.

He played in 12 games as a freshman in 2018 and started eight of them. UMaine reached the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for the first time in program history that season.

He has primarily been the starting center and has also logged a lot of time at guard with limited time at tackle.

He was an All-Colonial Athletic Association second team selection last fall and was named to the CAA preseason all-conference team this season.

Gerace loves being an offensive lineman, and calls it an unsung position.

“Offensive linemen are the most selfless players on the field,” said the 6-foot-4, 317-pounder. “I like the mental aspect of trying to move someone against their will.”

The Black Bears are coming off a 41-0 drubbing at the hands of Football Bowl Subdivision team New Mexico in which the offense was limited to just 118 yards.

Gerace said games like that happen from time to time.

“We’ve got to bounce back,” said Gerace, who would like to have a pro career after this season.