Rusler ties up role on the offensive line
When the 2014 season started, Carson High had to replace three starters on its offensive line, including all-region guard Andy Cooper.
Early in the season, junior Kevin Rusler stepped into that spot and has quietly brought stability to the position the past six weeks.
The 6-foot 185-pounder, who also wrestles, has scored either an A or B on line coach Jim Franz’s grading scale since the season started. His best games have come in the last three weeks.
“I feel like I’ve played pretty well,” Rusler said Tuesday, as the Senators (5-2, 2-0) prepared to play Galena (1-6, 0-1) Friday at 7 p.m. “When Conrad (Franz) got hurt, I had to fill in. I still have to get better. I make mistakes out there, but those are more mental than anything else, and they can be fixed.
“I like playing guard (over tackle) because you get to do more, and I feel it suits me physically. You get to block more people. At the Tahoe camp and scrimmage I got used to the speed of the game.”
Carson is averaging 247.6 per game on the ground, and Rusler along with centers Corey Jasper and Austin Ackerman, tackles Maurilio Olivares and Eddie Duarte and fellow guard Josue Orozco have all done yeoman-like work in the trenches.
“Kevin has really stepped up,” Roman said. “He had some big shoes to fill because Andy Cooper played quick guard last year. Kevin has done a heck of a job. He has toughness and tenacity. Like Cooper, he’s a warrior. He brings it everyday in practice and at every game. He’s been really consistent.
“We ask the quick guard do a lot of pulling and trapping. You need to be a good athlete. It’s the toughest spot on the line to play.”
Rusler started at quick tackle on the JV squad, and was brought up to the varsity squad for the playoffs. He was working some at both quick tackle and quick guard when Franz suffered a concussion.
‘He got some good experience at the end of the year practicing with us,” Roman said. “It’s a big adjustment. The first is the speed of the game, and how quick you have to make decisions. The second is that on varsity you can get different looks. You can get two different looks on two different plays. That is where knowing the “rules” is so important. Kevin has improved a lot since the beginning of the year. At the start of the year it was a little bit of a struggle.”
When you think of guards, you think of stout guys like Cooper, who was 6-foot-1 230 pounds. Rusler is more on the lankier side.
“He only goes 185,” Roman said. “He does a great job of maintaining leverage; staying low. That helps him a lot.”
And, you won’t ever see Rusler quit on a play.
“In wrestling you never give up in a match,” he said. “Playing offensive line you’re hitting somebody or getting hit on every play. You have to keep going no matter what. You can’t stop playing.”
On Friday, Rusler will get to see a lot of Galena sophomore Junior Pousima, who played varsity as a freshman.
“He’s pretty big,” Rusler said. “He likes to get to the ball. He’s the biggest guy I faced since the Clayton Valley game.”
It will be a challenge for Rusler, but that’s where his tenacity and toughness will come in.