September 18, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
61°F

High school football Week 4 preview: Chalmers doing it all

Adam Chalmers’ biggest strength as a linebacker is that he doesn’t have a weakness.

Whether it’s busting into the backfield to tackle an opposing running back or dropping deep into pass coverage, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior has been doing his job — and doing it well — for Brunswick, which will take a 3-0 record into its Northeast Ohio Conference cross-division game at Garfield Heights on Friday.

“He’s versatile,” Blue Devils defensive coordinator Joe Yarwood said. “That’s key for us. We can play him inside and he’ll make a stop between the tackles, but on third-and-long he can cover a receiver. He gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Chalmers, who has 11 solo tackles, eight assists, one quarterback sack, two hurries and a fumble recovery to his credit, wasn’t supposed to be the team’s stud linebacker, but he’s certainly turned into that now that All-Gazette pick Zach Nekich (5-10, 225) has been lost for the season due to a knee injury.

“Everybody was worried when Zach went down, but Adam’s certainly picked it up for us,” Blue Devils coach Rich Nowak said. “He’s having a great year compared to last year.”

Credit for that, in a roundabout way, goes to Nekich, who will undergo surgery in early October but whose work in the weight room rubbed off on his classmate and fellow linebacker.

Chalmers started every game last season as Brunswick finished 10-2, but at 175 pounds he admittedly put the “weak” into his weak-side linebacker spot.

“I saw how big Zach was and how much strength he had knocking guys down,” Chalmers said. “I wanted to do the same thing, so I needed to put some weight on.

“I just worked really hard at getting the agility to go out and cover people and also to get the strength to tackle people and fill holes whenever I need to.”

Frequently working out twice a day in the offseason, Chalmers upped his bench press from 205 pounds to 310. He can also squat 450 pounds after never really doing the exercise prior to his junior season.

Add it all up and Chalmers is 25 pounds heavier, a whole lot stronger and just as fast.

“They say I’m a little crazy on the field sometimes,” he said. “I just love the contact and hitting people.

“My perfect hit would be just lifting someone up off the ground and then slamming them down. I don’t really know how to explain it. It feels good. You hear the crowd go ‘Ohhhhh,’ then I usually just go crazy and scream.”

Chalmers, however, is not all brawn and no brains. No. 21 is not only Brunswick’s starting weak-side linebacker, but also the team’s top backup at middle linebacker and strong-side linebacker, where Mike Vrsansky and Brandon Mendrea, respectively, have stepped up to the challenge and currently rank one-two on the team’s defensive points list.

Chalmers, who is third on the team’s defensive points list despite playing on the weak side, hopes to play strong safety in college, but right now two goals are foremost in his mind. First, the 17-year-old wants to help Brunswick get back on top of the NOC Valley Division after Strongsville ended the Blue Devils’ run of six consecutive league titles in 2008. If that happens, his second goal — a ninth straight playoff appearance for Brunswick — would be a virtual lock.

“We’ve got a lot tougher schedule than we’ve ever had, but I like it a lot,” Chalmers said. “We all do. We love the competition, because it’s going to make us better in the long run.

“There’s something about our tradition that gets us going. We know we can’t lose. We’ve always had the mentality that we have to win. After the Strongsville game (last year), we were all down. We got real mad. We just have to lay it on them — and anyone else who stands in our way.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.