2015 Football: Alsberry expected to anchor Rams’ offensive line in 2015

Strasburg's Rashon Alsberry puts on his helmet as he heads to the huddle during a recent practice.   Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg's Rashon Alsberry puts on his helmet as he heads to the huddle during a recent practice. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Rashon Alsberry remembers being nervous when he stepped onto the football field for that first day of practice for Strasburg High School’s JV squad as an eighth grader four years ago.

That’s not all that surprising, really, considering that Alsberry was about to participate in his first season of competitive football.

Working as an offensive lineman since his inaugural season in 2011, Alsberry learned quickly that it takes a certain mentality to play at the forefront of any offensive attack. There isn’t much room for nervousness when you’re fighting off opposing defenses.

“You’ve got to be like you’re in a dogfight. I think of it as a killer mentality,” Alsberry said before a recent football practice. “You’ve just got to go out there and just don’t think of anything else. Just put it all out there. It’s a battle in the trenches.”

Now a senior, and with a full season of varsity starting experience behind him, Alsberry has as good a grasp on that mindset as he’s ever had. Alsberry understands that his role as an offensive lineman comes with little glory and he possesses the toughness required to fend off defensive linemen for four quarters, Rams head coach Mark Roller said, two attributes necessary for the position and reasons Roller expects Alsberry to be the “anchor” on Strasburg’s line in 2015.

“I think he has those qualities,” Roller said. “He’s a big guy, he moves well and he blocks well. So we’re looking for big things from him this year and hope that he can lead those guys down there.”

As the only senior offensive lineman with varsity experience to break camp with a starting spot, Alsberry’s leadership and experience – as well as that of third-year starting center Josh Pritchett and returning starting tackle Ryan Jenkins – will be paramount for a Rams’ line that will be expected to handle a lot of responsibility this fall.

Strasburg’s offense will feature new faces in the backfield after the graduation of quarterback Mark Smoot and running back Colton Funk. With an inexperienced quarterback and senior Justin Carr and junior Adam Miller both having limited varsity action at running back, Strasburg’s success at both positions this fall will begin with the play of the offensive line.

Last season, Alsberry, Pritchett and Jenkins helped pave the way for a Rams offense that averaged 306.5 yards per game, including 109.2 yards on the ground.

“It doesn’t matter how good of a running back you have or how good of a quarterback you have, if those guys [the offensive line] can’t get the job done then you don’t go anywhere,” Roller said. “… It’s important to have those guys back and being able to produce and open some holes.”

Alsberry, who saw most of his playing time at guard last season, said Strasburg’s inexperience at the skill positions this season will likely put some pressure on him and the rest of the offensive line, but he added that the linemen can’t worry about the things they can’t control.

“Coach [John] Schaffstall tells us not to worry about anybody else. Just do what we’ve got to do and then hopefully the skill players [do what they need to do],” Alsberry said. “And I have confidence in them. I think they will do it. They’ll pull out on their end and we’ll just pull out on our end.”

Alsberry has helped make sure the Rams’ offensive line is prepared to handle its responsibility this season by becoming more of a presence in the weight room during the offseason, Roller said.

Alsberry, who weighed about 270 pounds one week into fall camp (he was listed at 235 pounds last season), said he was in the weight room “almost every day” during the summer.

“He’s done a fairly decent job of working over the summer, being in the weight room and kind of trying to lead those guys,” Roller said. “I have seen that much more this year than in years past. He has been active as far as encouraging those younger guys and trying to get them to move forward.”

Alsberry could also make an impact on defense in 2015, as he could see some time at defensive tackle if his conditioning gets to the point where he can effectively play both ways.

But no matter where he’s at on the field, Alsberry will be looked at as a leader for Strasburg in 2015, a role that Roller said the senior has already embraced.

“He’s kind of garnered that leadership ability of taking control and saying hey, I’m the senior lineman, I’m the one that’s in charge and they’re going to follow me,” Roller said. “That’s kind of what he’s done so far.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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