By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY --George Aston loves everything about his favorite football player, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu.
Aston loves the way he plays the game, plays with intensity and passion.
"The way he plays -- that's the way everybody should play," Aston said of Polamalu. "Just go out there, don't care about anything, don't think, just go out there and do it."
Aston knows a lot about playing that way, since it's also the way he plays the game.
The Sherando senior running back/linebacker is all business on the field, and the Warriors have benefited greatly from it.
"George is one of those guys where he leads by example," Sherando coach Bill Hall said. "It's not that he's not a vocal leader as he's gotten older, but he models the way you're supposed to play football. His mentality, the way he prepares for a game. The way he plays in practice, the way he plays in a game. The way he prepares in the offseason, the way he eats, what he drinks, what he runs.
"Everything he does is done towards being successful on the football field."
Hall said that when Aston was a freshman he weighed 160 pounds, but by the time he came back as a sophomore he had put on 35 pounds of muscle.
"One of the most physically mature kids I've ever worked with," Hall said. "It's not just going and lifting all the time. It is the food, all the nutritional components, the hydrational components. The sacrificing, getting proper sleep. It's all those things. We just saw a tremendous work ethic in him. He's a very coachable athlete and then has a willingness to want to do it right."
Aston didn't get a lot of playing time his freshman year, but he said he learned a lot from the older players.
His sophomore year Aston not only started, but called the defensive plays from his linebacking position.
Aston said he loves playing defense and trying to make the tackle or a big hit on every single play.
"I've always just loved hitting people," Aston said. "That's what it's always been about, is hitting people on defense. That's what I love."
Once the ball is snapped, Hall said Aston only has one speed. He goes all out as he tries to make a big play.
"It's one of those things where the only way you can get to be like that is through practice," Hall said. "He practices like that so when the ball is snapped your instincts kick in. That's where his instincts are -- it's part of his DNA right now. He doesn't know anything other than when the ball is snapped to go wide open."
Aston had 136 tackles last season, and one sack and one interception.
While Aston said he prefers playing on defense, he doesn't mind being on offense, too.
Aston has played several positions for the Warriors the last two seasons. He's been a tight end, a fullback and a tailback. Last year he became an even bigger part of Sherando's running game when starting tailback Taylor Loudan moved to quarterback to replace an injured Reid Entsminger.
Aston finished with 412 yards on 89 carries and had nine touchdowns.
"I like to play running back," Aston said. "It's kind of linebacker, you get to run over people."
With Loudan graduated, Aston knows he will be called on to be a big part of the running game once again this season.
"He's a really good running back," Hall said. "He has good vision, and he runs with a purpose. I wish I could get him 40 reps at tailback and 60 reps at linebacker, but we try to give him some breaks on offense. Game situations will dictate that for us."
The Warriors didn't have quite the season they were looking for last year. Sherando finished with a 6-5 record, losing in the first round of the playoffs to Liberty.
Injuries played a big part in Sherando's struggles, and Aston said the team will be very motivated to do better this season.
"To end up 6-5 just seems unacceptable," Aston said. "Our tradition here is great, but [the seniors] also want to leave something else that no other team has left behind. No matter what happens, we just want to leave a mark on the program."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com