Park View sophomore running back Deric Dudinski doesn't at all consider himself to be small. Having grown nearly three inches and put on more than 25 pounds since his freshman year, Dudinski (5 feet 8, 160 pounds) is about average for his age and position.
Put him behind Park View's massive offensive line, though, and it's a much different story.
"Sometimes I do get lost back there," Dudinski said.
But that's a compliment -- not a complaint.
Park View's offensive front averages 265 pounds and is particularly loaded on the right side, where senior guard Donny Smith (6-2, 280) and senior tackle Eric Stanley (6-5, 350) not only occupy considerable space but also have been critical to helping Dudinski set personal bests for rushing yards in each of the Patriots' first two games. Dudinski, who started seven games as a freshman, totaled 530 yards last season and rushed for more than 100 yards three times, with a season-best 138 against Dominion.
This season he has totaled 146 yards and three touchdowns in a 53-9 win over Fort Defiance and 171 yards in Friday's 30-7 victory over Culpeper.
"The fact is he's got good size and good height," Park View Coach Charlie Pierce said. "But behind our offensive line, especially on the right side, it's kind of hard to see him back there sometimes. Then he's making his move and is gone before you know it."
In addition to a natural growth spurt from his freshman to sophomore seasons, Dudinski also said he worked hard during the offseason adhering to a strict weightlifting and diet regimen designed by his older brother, Dustin, a junior defensive back at Shepherd College and former running back for the Patriots.
"My brother really taught me the proper way to gain weight," Dudinski said. "I lifted every day but also ran with my brother and did drills to improve my speed and footwork. And I ate four or sometimes even more meals a day with steak and mashed potatoes and green beans and pastas . . . all the good stuff my mom makes."
Still, Dudinski relies much more on his quickness and vision -- not to mention that offensive line -- than his size.
"We talk a lot about how our line and our backs can really help each other," Pierce said. "We've got a big, strong front that can open holes. And Deric is patient enough to allow them to develop before he accelerates. It's a good combination."