Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2013

MT. ULLA — Take one look at Chris Hassard and you’ll know he wasn’t designed for the gentle cycle.
At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds the West Rowan senior is big, tough, strong and durable — traits that make for a good pickup truck and an even better offensive lineman.
“Let me tell you something about Chris Hassard,” Falcons’ coach Scott Young said during a frosty, mid-week practice. “He’s a great kid, a yes-sir, no-sir kind of a kid. But on the field he can cut the switch on and be as nasty as you want him to be. That’s something all great linemen have to have.”
So while last Friday’s headlines went to ballcarriers Daisean Reddick, Keyows Weeks and Harrison Baucom — hard-nosed runners who ran like the bulls at Pamplona in a 45-24 win at Hickory Ridge — it was Hassard and his mates on the OL who got nasty and did all the behind-the-scenes grunt work.
“We don’t get the glory, but that’s the way I like it,” said Hassard, the right guard on a line that literally threw its weight around. “You’ve just got to go out there and hit. You don’t get the credit, but as long as the running backs are getting noticed it’s good. It’s all good. It means we’re doing our job.”
Hassard has gotten so good it hurts, especially when he hits a head-hunting defender. His awe-shucks, alter-boy demeanor belies his physical presence. Originally a defensive player, he was converted to offense as a sophomore by a staff member who liked his size.
“Back then we had a lot of good defensive linemen here,” he explained. “I was always trying to get into the flow of things, but a week before the season started I was moved to the offensive line. I’ve been there ever since.”
Baucom, for one, is happy with the current arrangement.
“This kid’s an amazing player,” said West’s junior quarterback. “If it wasn’t for him and all the other offensive lineman, I wouldn’t be where I am — and neither would the team. We’re 6-5 and in the playoffs because the OL gave us a great push all night and the running backs made the right reads and cuts.”
West methodically churned out a season-best 416 yards rushing and scored six touchdowns running the ball against Hickory Ridge — four by Reddick and two by Baucom. “That gives us confidence going into the playoffs,” Hassard said. “We’re peaking right now. They knew we were gonna run the ball. We knew we were gonna run the ball. And we still got all those yards. We gave them a lot of good holes.”
Credit Hassard and his partners-in-crime — tackles Jacob Radtke and Hezikiah Banks, left guard Denny Triche and center Trey Brawley. Together they dominated HR up front with blasts down the middle, traps and misdirections, and power sweeps to left side — with Hassard pulling to lead the blocking stampede.
“Early in the year our line was pretty good,” Young noted. “Then we had a little mid-season slump where some of the defenses exposed our line. Now they’ve returned to form and the other night was pinnacle of that. We had a 200-yard back, a 100-yard back and a quarterback that went for 80. That’s three different guys. When that’s happening you know the guys up front are getting it done.”
So call it what you like. An attitude, a mindset, a mentality. Just make sure you call it a night’s work for West’s OL.
“The best thing about this is when we run the ball,” said Hassard, a 3.8 student who’s been offered a partial scholarship from UNC-Pembroke. “After a game, just being worn out and knowing that you overpowered an opponent, that’s the best feeling for us.”