After making occasional appearances as a sophomore and junior, Trinity High defensive end Bobby Bryant has emerged as one of the Rocksâ€™ most consistent performers.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder has 12 tackles and a sack through two games, but most of his contributions never make it to the stat sheet.
â€œBobby Bryant is probably every coachâ€™s dream,â€ said Trinity coach Bob Beatty. â€œHeâ€™s just one of those guys that works his tail off. He will compete with you on every single down.â€
Bryant is also the reigning state wrestling champion at 195 and owns a career 116-15 record on the mat. He went 47-4 last season with no losses to in-state competition.
â€œBobby is a blue-collar, hard-nosed kid,â€ said Rocks wrestling coach Richard Brown. â€œHeâ€™s going to be a success whether itâ€™s in the sports world or not.â€
Several colleges have expressed interest in Bryant, including Lindsey Wilson for both sports and Valparaiso, Butler, Davidson and Centre for football.
Following a recent practice, Bryant fielded questions about the young season and his role in maintaining Trinityâ€™s dominance.
Chris Cahill: When did you get your start in football?
Bobby Bryant: When I was about five I started out in the Optimist League with the Highview Mustangs and then I played at St. Raphael through middle school (while a student at Jefferson County Traditional Middle School).
C.C.: What makes a good defensive end?
B.B.: Youâ€™ve just got to beat the man across from you and fire off quick. Then youâ€™ve got to work together with the other D-linemen and the linebackers and really the whole defense. Weâ€™ve got a great set of D-linemen.
C.C.: How has wrestling improved your football skills?
B.B.: A big part is endurance and going through pain. Wrestling is a lot of cardio and takes a lot of lungs. It really pushes you past your limit and teaches you that you can go farther than your body thinks. Wrestling is all with your hands and reading people so thatâ€™s helped a lot.
C.C.: Are there any pros you mimic?
B.B.: Bill Romanowski. Before all the steroids and stuff, he was an extremely hard worker. The amount of time and effort he put in was ridiculous and his dedication to football was crazy.
C.C.: Trinityâ€™s defense allowed only 8.3 points per game last season, but has already given up 46 in just two games. Is that cause for concern?
B.B.: I donâ€™t think itâ€™s necessarily our defenseâ€™s fault. The other teams have had a lot of weapons. Weâ€™ve faced some really athletic receivers, running backs and quarterbacks. Our defense is still doing good.
C.C.: Which is more difficult â€“ pinning a wrestling opponent or sacking a QB?
B.B.: Theyâ€™re so hard, but so different. Iâ€™d probably say a sack. Thatâ€™s the most satisfying and you can change the whole tone and speed of the game with a big play for a loss of yards. Any time it happens, I just get chills.
C.C.: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of Trinity football?
B.B.: I donâ€™t think they really know the time and effort that we put in. We work out almost every day of the summer and we put in so many hours and the coaches put in even more than we do. Itâ€™s pretty crazy how much we put into it.
C.C.: Who is the best offensive lineman youâ€™ve ever faced?
B.B.: Thatâ€™s a tough question. Probably the O-line that we had the past two years. That was an awesome group of guys and I really battled with them (in practice).
C.C.: What do you make of the national polls (in which Trinity is generally ranked among the top 20)?Â
B.B.: I think itâ€™s an honor that they notice us and the hard work we put in, but I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s all that accurate because we donâ€™t play any of the other teams (in the rankings). I think it motivates us, but weâ€™re really just worried about winning a state championship.
C.C.: How did it feel to win two state titles in a span of three months last season?
B.B.: It was awesome. I really couldnâ€™t have had a better year in sports. I won fantasy football too (laughs).
C.C.: How does your fantasy team look this year?
B.B.: I donâ€™t have near as good a team as last year. Iâ€™m hoping Peyton Manning will do his thing and make a big comeback (because) Iâ€™ve got him at quarterback.
Bryant and the rest of the Shamrocks (2-0) host Cincinnati Elder (2-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.