By Brad Fauber
STRASBURG -- Colton Funk is your prototypical gym rat, the type of player that every high school football coach wants and the type of player that every high school football coach seems to never have enough of.
It sounds cliché, but the Strasburg High School senior lives in the weight room.
"That is my life," Funk said. "They can't keep me out."
Rams head football coach Mark Roller has tried, and even suggested that Funk take a week off over this past summer in order to give his body a rest. Roller can fight Funk's obsession with the weight room all he wants, but he knows it won't do any good.
"He'll find a way," Roller said.
Funk's passion for lifting (he'll settle for a jog if he's denied access to weights) didn't happen by mere chance. That work ethic was instilled in him when he was a child by his grandfather, Bill.
"He was a gym teacher for 43 years and he was a wrestling coach, football coach, everything. He would get up and run five miles a day and do body weights and stuff," Funk said. "When he was younger he played college football at Shepherd. He's always been a great role model."
Funk took those lessons to heart and has applied them to his own high school football career. That work ethic was further intensified during his first varsity season as a sophomore in 2012.
That fall, Funk was supposed to serve as the backup to former Strasburg standout running back Rakwon White. Instead, Funk missed the first half of the season while recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered in a car accident the previous spring. He spent the second half of the 2012 season working his way back into playing shape, serving mostly on special teams and never seeing meaningful playing time for the Rams as they rolled to a 10-2 season.
"I was devastated," Funk said. "... I was planning on helping out the team that year, but God does things for a reason. You've got to go with the flow."
Funk said his sophomore season -- or lack thereof -- made him hungrier in 2013, and he seized the starting running back job in preseason practice last year.
"Once last year came around and I got to do my thing -- the thing that I was used to -- it felt amazing," Funk said. "That feeling of just getting back out here and being able to do what you love, what's better than that?"
Funk thrived in his first season as Strasburg's featured running back, as he carried the ball 169 times for 874 yards and four touchdowns and was named a second team all-Bull Run District selection.
Funk holds even loftier goals this season, and he will be called upon again to be a centerpiece of a Strasburg offense that will feature some unproven talent at the other skill positions.
"I look for him to have a bigger and better year this year," Roller said. "His attitude is great. Leader. Not very outspoken, leads by example but every now and then he'll speak his mind and let the other guys know what is going on."
Funk, at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, isn't a flashy runner, Roller said, but he added that the most impressive aspect of Funk's running game is his ability to keep his feet moving after contact and generate extra yardage.
That same quality suits Funk well at his outside linebacker position on defense, too. Funk finished third on the team with 70 total tackles (35 solo) last season.
"He's not one of those flashy guys that makes big time hits but he's always around the football," Roller said. "He'll always find a way. You've got to find a way when you're not built very big. He's not a big kid. He just finds a way. He just has an instinct of where things are going."
Funk said he has some individual goals in mind for the 2014 season -- a first team all-district nod chief among them -- though the main concern is returning Strasburg to winning form after the Rams struggled to a 3-7 season in 2013.
Funk's on-field play this fall will be critical to achieving that goal, but the example he's already set off the field could bode well for the future of the Strasburg football program.
"He's just one of those kids, he wants to live there in the weight room. He's the first one in and the last one out, and that's the kind of kid you want coming out for your program. That mentality rubs off," Roller said. "As many young kids as we can get in the weight room and let them see how he works, that's great."
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD