Football Preview 2017: Wallace set to lead Eagles’ charge again in final season

Clarke County's Bryan Wallace will again lead the Eagles up front after earning all-state recognition as a defensive end and offensive lineman in 2016. Rich Cooley/Daily

BERRYVILLE – Throughout Bryan Wallace’s varsity football career at Clarke County High School, he’s learned that he can point out the teammates who possess the proper work ethic to succeed on the field.

There’s a noticeable difference, he said, between the kids that take the extra step to get better in the offseason or in practice and the ones who sometimes sit back and tell themselves, “I’ll get it next play.”

Wallace is entering his fourth season at the varsity level in 2017, and regularly has been one that resides in that former group. In fact, if Eagles longtime head coach Chris Parker could pick an ideal role model for his players to emulate, it would be someone like Wallace.

“Without a doubt,” Parker responded earlier this month when asked if his senior two-way lineman fits the mold as the prototypical leader by example. “It rubs off.”

That work ethic has served Wallace well in his high school athletic career. On the wrestling mat, Wallace is a three-time Virginia High School League Group 2A state champion in three different weight classes. On the football field, he’s just as dominant.

The Region 2A East Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, Wallace, an imposing defensive end who enters his senior season listed at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, piled up 261 tackles and 20 sacks over the past two seasons as Clarke County made a pair of deep playoff runs (the Eagles reached the 2A state championship game in 2015 and the regional third round last season).

In 2016, he led the Eagles in tackles (141), tackles for loss (14), sacks (eight) and quarterback hurries (15), and as a starting offensive guard helped pave the way for a Clarke County single-wing offense that averaged 346.7 rushing yards per game.

Wallace was a first-team VHSL Group 2A all-state selection at defensive end and as an offensive lineman last season.

“He’s tough as nails, and he is very heady, very intelligent too. But obviously his strength (is his biggest asset),” Parker said. “He’s got great range, long arms, just strong, and he brings it. He could run all day, get pounded on all day, (and) he’s the one that’s delivering it. He’s a really tough kid. … In a playoff game against Union (in the state semifinals in 2015), he shed three blockers and made the play. I mean he’s just, he can do things that the typical high school player can’t do.”

Wallace’s exploits have drawn the attention of NCAA Division I schools, and Parker listed the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee as some of the parties who have showed interest in the senior.

Wallace gave a verbal commitment to Charlotte, a young football program that kicked off its first season in 2013, in July, freeing the senior from playing his final high school season under the burden of uncertainty about his college destination.

“It definitely makes it feel like there’s a lot less pressure, but there’s still a lot of pressure,” Wallace said of giving his verbal pledge to the 49ers, who offered him a scholarship in June. “I wanna do the best I can this year for the team and to prepare myself for college and the next level.”

In order to do that, Wallace said, he attended as many football camps as he could across various college campuses this summer, and joined teammates Rico Nappi and Lucas Rogers in working with a physical trainer in Winchester during the offseason.

That work falls in line with Wallace’s mindset that despite being on the varsity team for four years now, he continues to “keep my horizons open” and is constantly learning new things on the football field.

Wallace’s 2017 goals include winning Clarke County’s first state title and capturing the school’s single-season sack record, which he said is 10.5 sacks over a 10-game regular season. Wallace recorded 12 sacks as a sophomore in 2015 but did so over a 15-game span.

“I really want to make this senior year really something special and give it everything I’ve got for the next year,” Wallace said.