Normally after Blair Roman finishes talking to his team after a game, home or away, the players walk toward the locker room. Some go straight to the locker room while others talk to parents or friends upon leaving the field.
It was different after a 35-0 loss to Reed earlier this year. While Roman was being interviewed by members of the media, the players were about 10 yards behind their coach listening to tight end Vinny Hershman, who was conducting his own post-game tirade.
Some players like Abel Carter lead by example; by their work ethic. Hershman is more of a vocal, emotional leader. On any football team you need both.
“We didn’t have the focus we needed,” Hershman said of his post-game talk. “Some guys were getting it and some weren’t. School had just started up, and I don’t think we were focusing on the task at hand. I don’t think we were comfortable with each other at that time.
“I told them we needed to put all that extra stuff away, not worry about wins and losses, the coaches or the media. We only have one senior year. We only have a few games left to play (together). I care about this team a lot. We needed to play for each other and we all weren’t doing that. I think some guys look up to me, or at least respect me.”
Roman wasn’t surprised by Hershman talking to the team.
“From day one, and it started back in June, Vinny has been one of the more vocal leaders on the team,” Roman said. “He is an emotional kid, an intense individual.
“You need guys like that. You need guys that step out of their comfort zone and tell teammates what they might not want to hear; calling guys out.”
Hershman’s tirade came at a good time. This was a team that was 1-2 after the Reed loss. This is a team that must rely on cohesiveness. Other than Abel Carter, this isn’t a team full of playmakers like in past seasons.
“I’ve gotten to be more of a social (and vocal) guy as I’ve gotten older,” Hershman said. “I felt that I had to let it out. Nobody else was going to step up.”
Hershman says the team chemistry has improved since the Reed game, as the Senators have beaten McQueen and North Valleys.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Hershman is an emotionally tough guy. He also leads by example on and off the field. He isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the fray. He craves contact, and that’s why he’s a perfect fit for the Carson High offense. He knows blocking is the biggest part of the job, and he relishes contact.
“I played offensive line as a freshman and sophomore, and part of my junior year,” Hershman said. “I did a lot of pulling and trapping. I liked playing offensive line. I was a little faster off the line of scrimmage. Now that I’m older and can face block people, I like man-to-man blocking.”
He also likes to catch the ball, and he caught two passes for 18 yards in the 41-20 win over North Valleys last week. Both passes were caught with Hershman tight on the line and not flanked out. That has become a rarity in the Carson High offense.
Last year, Corey Jasper didn’t catch a pass all season, and Ian Schulz, who had two injury prone years, caught nine passes for 132 yards in his two seasons as a tight end. The bulk of those catches were from a spread formation. John Parker caught 11 balls for 108 yards in 2010 and Luke Maher had 14 catches for 177 yards in 2011-12.
“I’ve always wanted to throw to the tight end more,” Roman said. “We’ve had years where we’ve had them (good receivers at that spot), and we have that with Vinny. It’s good to see him catch the ball. The position has always been part of the (passing) offense. Mostly the role is to block.”
And, with Carson focusing on more intermediate routes, it’s definitely possible to see Hershman become one of quarterback Jon Laplante’s favorite targets.