FLS Varsity brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school sports.
FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sobczak got himself in shape
Steven Sobczak tantalized the Massaponax football coaching staff with his potential when he entered the program as a freshman.
But there was one element missing that would help Sobczak become the dominant player the Panthers envisioned.
Sobczak’s conditioning needed a major overhaul.
“You feel helpless when you’re on the sideline tired,” Sobczak said. “You never want to feel that way.”
That’s why Sobczak dedicated himself to working out during the offseason prior to his senior year, and the results have helped him live up to what the coaching staff saw in him early on.
The James Madison commit has lost 46 pounds since 2012 and is excelling as an offensive and defensive lineman.
Sobczak (6-foot-2, 284 pounds) didn’t sit out one play from scrimmage in the Panthers’ 60–22 victory over Edison last Friday in the first round of the 5A North playoffs.
Sobczak helped open holes for Massaponax’s triple-option rushing attack that saw 12 ball carriers amass 461 yards and eight touchdowns. His presence on the defensive line caused Edison to double team, and sometimes triple team him, which created openings for other defenders.
Sobczak’s effort earned him Free Lance–Star Player of the Week honors.
“I felt like I could’ve gone about five or six quarters honestly,” Sobczak said. “Coach [Eric] Ludden’s cross-fit training this summer really paid off.”
The Panthers’ offensive line is on a roll despite the loss of senior right tackle Vinny Mihota, who suffered a broken bone in his left foot in the second game of the season and hasn’t played since.
Sophomore Conlan Beaver has replaced Mihota.
“Conlan’s stepped up a lot,” Sobczak said. “Everything he lacks in strength and experience he makes up for with aggression. He’s very, very aggressive.”
The unit has thrived all season, but the past two games have been particularly impressive. The Panthers (11–0) closed the regular season with a 61–41 win over Brooke Point. They racked up 419 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground in that contest.
Their totals from the past two weeks combined: 121 points, 880 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns. Ludden said the play of his offensive line is a key reason why the Panthers are operating the triple option as well as any team in the program’s history.
“I think it’s got to be close,” said Ludden who has been the head coach at Massaponax since the school opened in 1998. “There’s a big core of these guys that are experienced and they really get it, from the quarterback to the offensive line to the running backs all the way down to the receivers.”
Sobczak said the ball carrier has mattered little to the offensive line. Senior fullback Javonte Latney has been hobbled all season because of a torn meniscus he suffered in August.
But Latney, Aubrey Wilson and A.J. Forbes have all had multiple 100-yard rushing games this season. Quarterback Alphonzo Trice and running back Darren Gary have also been effective runners.
Sobczak said the offense has been “a well-oiled machine this year,” particularly against Edison.
“You could tell basically when the game starts how it’s going to go,” Sobczak said. “We saw from the very beginning that our offensive line had a real quick get-off and we were setting a new line of scrimmage basically before they tried to make their move. So we knew we were going to end up with positive yards on every play.”
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