Posted: Friday, November 20th 2009 at 4:21pm
Blitch's new focus puts him on new level
By Morgan Lee Editor
ATLANTA -- Ever since he set foot on campus at North Hall High, Daniel Blitch was marked for greatness.
He just wasn't mean enough.
As a freshman, Blitch had the kind of size and strength most offensive line coaches dream about: 6-foot-4, 300 pounds. He also had the footwork and brainpower to adapt to any number of roles along the offensive line.
All he lacked was that nasty edge that personifies so many great linemen -- until now.
"We've always been on him, telling him that he has to be more mean," Trojans coach Bob Christmas said. "He's a very nice, respectful young man. And now he’s learning how to be in that different zone on the field.”
Considering that North Hall’s second round playoff battle against St. Pius tonight in Atlanta will be largely won along the line of scrimmage, the Trojans will certainly be glad to have the imposing Blitch on their side. (The game will be broadcast live on Majic 102.9 FM.)
“He’s really starting to develop into the lineman that we always thought he could be,” Christmas said of the senior, who has grown to a svelte 6-6, 315 pounds. “He really plays hard, and is starting to show his intense side.”
According to Blitch, that isn’t always easy.
“Everybody calls me a big teddy bear, but I try not to be that on the field,” Blitch said. “I really have to build my intensity and focus – it’s not really meanness, it’s just getting into the mindset that I’ve got a job to do, and I’ve got to do that job no matter what.”
That added focus and intensity has helped turn the towering senior into one of the most impressive linemen in north Georgia. Already committed to Wake Forest, he was also recently invited to play in the GACA North-South All-Star game at the conclusion of the season, along with some of the state’s top seniors.
As a tackle, his responsibilities for the Trojans offense are myriad.
“We require a lot from him,” Christmas said. “He’s got to block down on defensive linemen, block a guy on his nose, release and get out on a linebacker, and we also use him to pull a lot. And, with his size and strength, if he gets a good down block on a guy, he isn’t going anywhere.”
Blitch will be required to take on some of the best defensive linemen he’s faced all season tonight in Atlanta, as St. Pius features both size and strength along its defensive front.
“They’ve got some big guys, in the 270-pound range, and they’ve not given up many points all year,” Christmas said, referencing a Golden Lions defense that is allowing just 6.5 points per game. “But we’ve seen teams like this before. It’s just a matter of execution.”
And execution is something Blitch is certainly used to after starting on the line for three full seasons now for North Hall.
“I started at center as a sophomore and made some great memories on that team,” he said. “It was great but also tough because I was the only real underclassman in that group, and I didn’t want to let of the seniors down.”
Blitch excelled along the line in just his second year on varsity, helping anchor an offense that led the Trojans to the Class AAA semifinals that season. But when his junior season came around, Trojans coaches wanted to take advantage of his size, versatility and experience, moving him to tackle.
“I just took the things I learned at center and added some of the new things I learned for tackle, and it came pretty easy,” Blitch said.
Of course, Blitch knows that things won’t necessarily come easy for North Hall tonight against a stingy St. Pius squad on the road, but Blitch is excited at the prospect of leading a Trojans team that can make history.
“It’s a great opportunity to make history by winning our first road playoff game for the program,” Blitch said. “I can’t wait for it.”
With the way he’s played this season, helping North Hall to gain over 3,000 yards on the ground, it’s a statement the Trojans’ running backs must be glad to hear.
And with the intensity he’s been showing this season, it’s also the kind of statement that should have opposing defenses more than a little worried.
-- NORTH HALL at SAINT PIUS X
WHAT: Second round Class AAA football playoffs
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Maloof Stadium, Atlanta
RADIO: Majic 102.9 FM
NORTH HALL: (9-2; No. 2 seed Region 7-AAA) Defeated Ringgold 39-21 in the first round.
SAINT PIUS: (11-0; No. 1 seed Region 7-AAA) Defeated Franklin County 34-0 in the first round.
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