Loudoun Valley senior fullback Ben Cross rushed for a career-high 266 yards in the Vikings' 28-13 win over Jefferson County (W. Va.) Saturday night, but this story is not about him.
This story is about Brad Draisey, the big offensive lineman who blocked for Cross throughout the game--and that comes as a surprise to the senior left guard.
"Linemen are never in the spotlight. I've never been interviewed," Draisey said. "But the coaches and the players know. Whenever we're in the huddle, the coaches say that the ball is not going to move without the guys up front. So you should pat the linemen on the back when you get some yardage."
Draisey, who is 6-foot-2 and 253 pounds, is the team's biggest lineman but is also agile and light on his feet. He's strong enough to overpower defensive linemen--"If we counted pancake blocks," Loudoun Valley Coach Mike Barton said, "there wouldn't be enough paper to record what Brad has done."
When you're blocking for Cross, Draisey said, the key is to make the initial hit a good one "because by the time you make the first hit, Ben is already by you. The backs are supposed to follow the linemen, but some don't. Ben does. If I'm running in front and Ben is running behind me, he puts his hand on my back so I know he's there. Then I hit someone, Ben switches directions, and he's gone."
In turn, Cross knows how important Draisey is to his--and the team's--success.
"He's definitely the one I like to run behind," Cross said. "When we need a big play, we can count on him to open something up. He always drives his man off the ball. I don't think there's anybody in the district he can't block."
The Vikings have been without two of their best and most experienced linemen so far this season: senior tackle James Murray had an infected cut on his shin, and senior guard Steve Dellinger sprained his ankle.
So the Loudoun Valley offensive line has consisted of three first-year varsity starters (sophomore center Mike Gessner, junior tackle Craig Mueller and junior tackle Sam Wilkinson) and senior guard Charlie Virts, who stepped in last year when Dellinger was sidelined with a shoulder injury. That means that Draisey, the veteran, has had to take on a larger role.
"We ran the same play to the same side, over and over against Jefferson County," Barton said. "People asked me, 'Why'd you do that?' I told them it has nothing to do with Ben; it's because I want Brad there. There's an old adage that says you run your best back behind your best blocker. That's what we're going to do."