By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Chris Smith loves to play defense.
The Sherando defensive end could play more on the offensive side, where he played at wide receiver some last year. However, he prefers to focus on the defensive side of the ball where he's become a dominant force for the Warriors.
"He's always been a big playmaker for us," Sherando coach Bill Hall said. "He's an explosive athlete, and what he does is he allows us to take advantage of some mismatches."
Smith had a huge season last year, as he had 67 tackles and 8.5 sacks. He said this year he's hoping to top his previous sack total.
He's well on his way. Smith is currently second in the area with 4.5 sacks.
Smith said there's nothing quite like making a sack.
"It feels amazing," Smith said. "It's like an adrenaline rush. It feels pretty good."
Smith said he's tried to learn more about playing defensive end and getting sacks from studying one of the best players in the NFL -- DeMarcus Ware.
The Dallas Cowboy standout is one of Smith's favorite players, along with Baltimore's Ray Lewis.
"He's just a powerhouse and he gets to the quarterback," Smith said of Ware. "I love [Ware and Lewis] because of the way they hit and the intensity they play with. They get everybody excited."
Smith also has the ability to excite his teammates. However, his opponents aren't as excited when they have to play against him.
After the success he had last year, things have been different for Smith this season. Teams are trying to adjust their protection, sometimes having two guys line up against him.
Hall said Sherando tries to move him around so teams can't always double-team him.
"There's been multiple times where teams have called timeout because their protection wasn't right, because we moved him around," Hall said. "We try to pick our spots on where we move him around to give us the best matchups for him."
"It feels good that they're keying on me, but I feel bad because I'm not getting any tackles," Smith said.
Smith has 31 tackles so far this season for the Warriors, and Hall said he's done a good job of adjusting to what the opposing offenses are doing.
One thing that has changed for Smith this season is he can now call himself a champion. Last spring Smith won the Group AA high jump state title with a jump of 6 feet, 5 inches.
Smith said it definitely surprised him, and it still feels good even months later.
"It feels like I accomplished a lot," Smith said. "I feel like a champion. It gives me confidence going into all the other sports."
Smith said he's planning to run track in college, and is being looked at by schools such as Navy and Christopher Newport.
The Warriors started off slow this season, losing three of their first four games. However, they've now won two games in a row, and are 1-0 in the Northwestern District.
The losses the Warriors had were to very strong teams such as Martinsburg (W.Va.) and Loudoun County.
Sherando has a key district game this week against rival Handley, and Smith said he's looking forward to the game.
"Handley's a tough team," Smith said. "It's a district game, I'm pretty pumped for it. I'm ready."
Contact sports writer Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com