By Jeremy Stafford -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The art of blocking, at first, came easy for Damien Caison.
As a tight end at Warren County, Caison had only to set himself on the line of scrimmage, take one or two hard steps, and engage the bulky defensive end or linebacker in front of him.
Caison soon learned, though, that with a shift in position comes a change in blocking technique.
For a wide receiver, blocking is a whole new art, with all new maneuvers to enact and all new maneuvers to foil.
Aside from wide receiver, the cornerback may be one of the wiliest positions in football, and blocking one standing 10 yards downfield is like trying to take hold of a writhing, wriggling snake.
"I'm just used to running through somebody and just throwing my pads into him," Caison said. "You can't do that 'cause corners, they'll move and they'll get out the way and you gotta break down and chop your feet and get your hands into them."
But at 6-foot-2, 239 pounds, Caison is a gridiron behemoth, and once he thrusts his hands into the chest of an opponent, the blur of running back Marty Haley streaking downfield likely won't amount to a thought in their minds.
"I'm really happy, this is the first time I've ever gotten a big guy to block for me," Haley noted.
But don't be fooled by Caison's size. He may sit in the backfield as a fullback, line up at the line of scrimmage as a tight end, or stand along Gage Steele as a linebacker, but Caison fully expects he'll stretch the Wildcat offense downfield as well as the speediest of receivers.
After spending the offseason working in Evolution Performance Training camps, Caison admits his improved speed and finesse has made him a complete player, more capable than ever of making the already dynamic Wildcat offense simply dazzling.
"Damien Caison will move to tackle if you ask him to," Warren County coach Tony Tallent said. "Damien Caison will play center, he'll play on the defensive line. The kid's just got a ton of ability and is a competitor.
"I think no matter what size kid you have, a kid who's willing to do whatever he needs to do for the team, and have that type of ability, is a tremendous plus."
Despite his ability, though, Caison initially thought he would be a one-dimensional wideout, limited to running slants and curls and screens. But in recent practices and scrimmages, Caison has learned that he can do so much more.
He can run fly routes, post routes and fade routes; he can beat a corner deep or outmuscle a linebacker over the middle; and when it comes to jump balls, Caison has all the confidence in the world that he's going to win the battles in the air.
And with the cannon of an arm that quarterback Austin Schwarz has, Haley and Steele splitting carries in the backfield, and the most experienced offensive line Tallent has ever had to work with, Caison also has all the confidence in the world that the Wildcats could put together a winning season.
"We have so much heart on this team, they could have 100 kids lined up on the field ... I'd take our 11 in a war with anybody," Caison said. "I'll take these 11 with me anywhere I go and feel like I can win anything."