Alex Field was working with the Broad Run offense during a practice earlier this month. Before Field lined up at tight end for one of the plays, he told the Spartans defenders that the ball would be coming his way.
Field then ran a short pattern, and quarterback Kyle Hopeck delivered a pass toward him. As two players closed quickly, Field bulled his way directly between them, caught the ball and then ran right over a third defender, who did his best to deliver a punishing blow. The only thing that stopped Field on the play was Coach Ken Belchik's whistle.
"Alex, that should be illegal!" one of his teammates yelled as Field jogged back toward the offensive huddle, laughing. "You need to stop that."
Actually, Broad Run is hoping to do a lot more of it.
Field stands 6 feet 6 and weighs 258 pounds, and he is better known for his play at defensive end. After finishing last season with 11 sacks, he was chosen the Dulles District's defensive player of the year.
But he said he actually prefers playing tight end, the position he hopes to land at the University of Virginia, where he has unofficially committed to play next fall.
"Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't love playing defense," Field said. "But it's fun to get out there on offense and have a chance to catch passes and make something happen for your team."
Field caught just seven passes for 44 yards a year ago in the Spartans' run-dominated attack. But with the graduation of running back Michael Coleman (district-best 1,522 yards, 17 touchdowns rushing), Belchik has said he'll give Hopeck the opportunity to throw more. And there's no better -- certainly no bigger -- target for Hopeck to seek than Field.
"If you're looking for the total package, he's it," Belchik said. "He's got size and strength. He's an athlete on the field, a scholar in the classroom and a mild-mannered, great guy off the field. He's got everything. Players like that don't come along very often."
Some of it comes naturally. Field's grandfathers are 6-3 and 6-4. But Belchik said Field weighed only about 215 pounds his sophomore year before really dedicating himself to the weight room. He now trains with Mark Schnupp, a former powerlifter and certified trainer, four days a week.
"He sets up my entire program," Field said. "And that's really had a huge impact on my football career."
Just as he hopes it will continue having a huge impact on Broad Run's football program. The Spartans were winless during Field's sophomore season but improved drastically last fall and finished 6-4.
Field is looking for even more.
"I can't even tell you how different things are around here, even in practice," Field said. "When we were 0-10 it was hard getting out there every day. But there's so much excitement in the air now. We had great leaders last year, that's what really turned the program around. This year, I want to be one of the ones that keeps that going."