CENTRAL ROSS

Central’s Christian Ross looks for someone to block as teammate Jacob Walters finds running room in their Oct. 28 game against William Monroe. Ross, who lost 60 pounds over the summer, has played a key role in Central's success on both sides of the ball this season.

WOODSTOCK -- Christian Ross wanted to make sure his senior year was the best one yet -- even if it meant giving up fast food.

The Central senior offensive/defensive lineman hit the weight room harder than ever and changed his diet and lost "about 60 pounds" over the summer.

"It was a big mindset thing," Ross said. "I just wanted to be the best athlete I could be this year. It definitely took a lot of willpower. I didn't really enjoy it at first, but I learned to love it after about the first few weeks, seeing progress with myself. And it's definitely been a big positive getting in the weight room a lot this offseason, working out with some of the guys like Zach Dysart and (Central assistant) coach (Conner) Potter."

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Ross said he would go every day to Roy's Gym in Woodstock to lift weights and he would go on a run. He said a friend of his, Harrisonburg senior Alex Spitler, came up with a workout program and Ross found out about it and used that as well.

"I fell in love with the workouts," Ross said. "I'd come out (after a workout) and my whole shirt was drenched in sweat. It was one of the best feelings ever."

Ross said the toughest part was having to change his diet completely.

"I had to change my diet big time," he said. "I'm used to fast food. I used to work at a Subway and I would always be eating fast food. It was definitely tough to cut it out but once you started seeing the progress in yourself it's really not worth the fast food anymore."

Ross said his new diet consisted of chicken, rice, protein shakes, lots of water and Rice Krispie Treats. He said he pretty much ate the same things every day, but it was all worth it.

"I'm very proud I stuck to it and stayed consistent and kept pushing myself," Ross said. "I'm definitely proud of myself."

Ross said many of his teammates gave him compliments and many of the linemen have said they want to do the same thing this offseason.

Central coach Mike Yew said it was great to see Ross' transformation and dedication in the offseason.

"I think it says a lot about him," Yew said. "Anytime you're willing to do things to make yourself better, whether it's for football or just for life in general, it's a good thing. I think it's more important for the rest of his life. I tell our kids all the time make decisions that last a lifetime. And he certainly has made one I think now that will get him in good shape to be able to help us in football. But at the same time he's probably made a decision that will help him for the rest of his life as well."

There's no question Ross' offseason training has paid off for him this season. He's helped lead the Falcons' offensive line and running game to a big year. On defense, Ross has 20 tackles and one big interception. He intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown against Shenandoah County rival Strasburg.

Ross has been on varsity for three years and said he learned a lot his sophomore season looking up to the other offensive and defensive linemen.

"The biggest thing I learned is chemistry is what really projects you forward," Ross said. "If you're best friends with all your teammates and always around your friends it definitely plays a big factor in doing well on Fridays."

Ross said last season was tough because the Falcons only played four games due to COVID-19 issues with other teams and there weren't many fans in the stands.

He said he's played on the offensive line since he started on junior varsity and he enjoys the position even if it doesn't get a lot of glory.

"You get plenty of glory from the coaches," Ross said. "They praise the O-line and the D-line, and they always say it starts with us -- and it's really true. It's been playing a big part of us this year. The O-line and D-line has been very dominant."

Ross is part of a defensive line along with fellow starters senior Travis Helsley, junior Gaige Lewis and sophomore Nathan Lopez. The group has been a key in Central's defense, which has allowed just 12.5 points per game this season.

On the offensive line, Ross is joined by Helsley, Lewis, junior Benji Mullins, sophomore Austin Baker, senior Jace Breeden and senior tight end Jacob Walters.

"I've been friends with all of these people," Ross said. "And I'm definitely glad I got to grow up with them and play this last year with them. I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else."

Ross was a first team All-Bull Run District selection on the offensive line and a second team All-Bull Run District selection on the defensive line.

"I think the best word is consistent," Yew said of Ross' play. "He gets in there. Does he make every single play? Certainly not, nobody does. But he's a kid that I can count on. He gets in there and he's going to put forth his best effort on every play."

Ross and the top-seeded Falcons host second-seeded Stuarts Draft on Friday in the Region 2B finals with a state berth on the line.

As a senior, Ross said he wants to give it everything he's got. He said he feels good about Central's chances of keeping their season going.

"I think we can carry our momentum and keep pushing forward and take it all the way to states," Ross said. "No matter who we play, I think we can give anybody a good competition."

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com