September 1, 2011 in Sports

Staying between lines

Chewelah three-year starter Connall hopes to be on field for every play
Steve Christilaw Correspondent
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Chewelah’s Calvin Connall, a 165-pound starter at running back and linebacker, has a goal to play every snap of each game, including on special teams.
(Full-size photo)

Don’t look for Calvin Connall on the Chewelah sidelines this football season.

The Cougars senior doesn’t plan to be there. Not for a single play.

“I’m working extra hard to make sure I’m in shape,” the running back/linebacker said. “I’ve been getting myself ready for this season all summer long – I’ve been in the weight room lifting all summer. I’m not where I want to be, not yet. But I’m going to be by our first game.

“I’m on every one of our special teams units and I want to be out on the field for every play this year. I’m looking forward to not coming off the field.”

A three-year starter on offense, two on defense, Connall injects speed on both sides of the ball.

“I’ve always been the fastest guy in my grade and speed has always come easily for me,” he said. “I’ve been gifted that way. But I didn’t play running back until I got to high school. I was a quarterback all through middle school, but in that system the quarterback ran the ball quite a bit. It wasn’t a big transition for me.”

As a sophomore, Connall first earned a starting spot at linebacker, but the team needed him at running back, so he shifted to offense.

“At first my coaches wanted me to just play offense, but I was able to gradually get back to playing linebacker, too,” Connall said. “I was able to play both ways last year.”

The adjustment to running back didn’t take long, he said. Having played quarterback helped the speedster read defenses – a talent that allowed him to help senior Derek Smith adjust to the position a year ago.

“Calvin isn’t your typical speed player,” coach Jim Fisk explained. “You expect the really fast guys to be light – guys whose only tool is speed. Calvin isn’t like that. He’s not huge – he weighs in at 165 pounds – but he loves to hit people. He’s strong enough to run right through a tackle and he’s good at reading blitzes.

“On defense, he’s a starter at linebacker and he does a great job of getting into the hole and stopping people. And he’s fast enough to run guys down.”

A quiet, lead-by-example type, Connall will get plenty of chances to shine, especially on offense.

“We may have to find some creative ways to get him the ball,” Fisk said. “He’s going to run the ball, for sure. He’s got good hands in the passing game, too. He’ll have plenty of touches.”

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