It was a busy spring and summer for Dayton High football player Sean deRubertis.
The Dayton senior was returning for his third year of varsity football, and he faced the task of being asked to start on both sides of the ball, meaning he had to be in the best shape of his young life to endure the physicalness that comes with playing linebacker and be a blocking back on offense.
"I'm doing a lot better since last year," said deRubertis, who leads the 4-2 Dust Devils into their game tonight (7 p.m.) at Elko High School. "I've been in the weightroom a lot. Going both ways is tough, and I knew I had to be in better condition. Me and some other guys stayed late and ran a lot of extra sprints to work on our speed."
It certainly has helped. DeRubertis is averaging 4.94 a carry on 51 attempts and he's scored six times in essentially his first year as an offensive player. He gives Dayton a solid inside presence to complement Cody Yeater and Tyler Firestone. DeRubertis is second on the team with 65 tackles, an average of nearly 11 per game.
Rob Turner, who assisted last year before taking the reins from Rick Walker this year, said that he's noticed the difference with deRubertis.
"I talked to coach Walker and coach Merrell, and they said Sean is making plays on defense that he never made last year," Turner said. "He's really been solid this year.
"When he plays within the parameters of the defense he does really well. He's gone from pretty good last year to really good this year. Linebackers have certain rules/techniques, and Sean has sometimes tried to do too much."
DeRubertis likes the physical aspect of football, and Turner was looking for a blue-collar player when he was trying to decide who would play fullback. In Dayton's offense, the fullback is a block first, run second position. It's not a position for the faint of heart because you have physical contact on EVERY play.
Did Turner ask deRubertis about playing fullback?
"I don't know if we ever discussed it," Turner said. "With him and Tyler being our best two players, we needed them to play both ways.
"The fullback is not going to carry the ball a ton. The fullback is the key to our running game, and has the key block on a lot of the plays we use Cody and Tyler on. He's blown up a lot of people this year. He hits like a truck. We use him when we feel like we can run the middle. If we don't, we go outside."
DeRubertis averages about eight carries a game, but admits he'd like to be more involved.
"They kinda just put me there," deRubertis said. "I'm pretty good at running the ball. You're getting to hit (somebody) every play, so I like it.
"I was hoping to get the ball more. A lot of times I have the key block to get our runner to the outside. I get the ball every so often so it's good."
One key to Dayton's 4-2 start is guys like Firestone and deRubertis playing nearly offensive and defensive snap, and both like it that way.
"When I try to take them out I usually get the cold shoulder," Turner said.
"I'm usually on the play for every defensive snap," deRubertis. "I'll take a couple plays off on offense. The one time he did take me out on defense I yelled at him. I don't think that's happened again."