Speed is all the rush for Ridge

MINERAL RIDGE — Half way around and in the first of two groups, Nathan Chiclowe is among 10 or so teammates running on the all-weather track.

An assistant football coach starts yelling, “24, 25, 26” from the middle of a roped-off field. A yellow sign said it was being re-sodded.

It’s conditioning.

Not the thing most teenagers want to do, but this senior is aware that hard work does actually pay off in Weeks 7 or 8. Huh, not just a cliche.

“It sucks right now,” said Chiclowe just after sprinting halfway around the track.

His play? Not so much.

Chiclowe is a defensive end, standing around 6-feet and weighing more than 200 pounds.

He gets his hands on his opponent and then makes his read in a 3-4 defensive set of the Rams. He’s a scary sight for opponents.

“He’s a nightmare off the edge,” Mineral Ridge coach Steve Wyllie said.

Skill and speed. The Rams are going to rely on that a heckuva lot this season, even more than the bulk up front the team relied on to power through a Wing-T offense last year.

No more 300-plus pound lineman.

“This year, we’ll be lucky to have multiple 200 guys,” Wyllie said.

Chiclowe is one of those assets, one the Rams plan to exploit early and often.

Offensively, he played tight end and guard in 2017. Early plans are to shift him to guard, a spot he hasn’t played before.

Chiclowe also throws shot put and discus, quite well in fact. He’s made Division III regionals and came pretty close to state. Bet he can’t wait for spring of 2019.

For now, it’s the fall of 2018 — a quandary for Wyllie.

Play at guard or keep him at tight end?

“If he catches it, it’s kind of a good night,” Wyllie said. “He has some speed even though he has a lineman-type body.”

Lineman coach Andrew Apisa, who is the throws coach in the spring for the Rams track and field team, has fine-tuned his footwork in the throw ring. It’s transferred to the grassy field, one that will be able to take the beating of a 10-week season.

Chiclowe isn’t too concerned where he’s playing on offense.

“Wherever they need me, really,” he said.

That even goes for the occasional lap around the track.