Smith's play on line helped Bitburg to title
Stars and Stripes November 30, 2010
Beginning this season, the Stars and Stripes staff, with input from various coaches, is selecting top players in each high school sport played across Europe.
Trying to be creative in describing Adam Smith’s dominating presence in DODDS-Europe football this year, one opposing coach came up an interesting comparison.
“He’s like a big St. Bernard puppy, playing with a bunch of poodles,” the coach said.
“That’s pretty funny,” Smith, a Bitburg senior, said of the comment.
And if Smith’s OK with it, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to dispute it on the football field. Not that he’s likely to fight about it.
“Most of the time, I keep a pretty cool head,” he said.
But at 6 feet 3 inches and 315 pounds, Smith hasn’t had to give any ground lately.
He was a dominant force in Bitburg’s 8-0 season, anchoring an impressive offensive line that just wore down all its foes during the course of the season. The Barons outscored opponents 317-61 on their way to a second straight Division II title. His efforts earned him recognition as Stars and Stripes’ football player of the year for Europe for 2010.
Smith, hobbled at the beginning of the season by a pulled muscle, also spent some time on defense.
AFNORTH coach Greg Blankenship said he had to pair two good football players – Jonathan Garcia (6-0, 280) and Tony Legare (5-11, 245 and weight-lifting champ at a summer football camp) to try to keep Smith out of the backfield.
“We used a guard and a tackle to try to slow him down,” Blankenship said. “And it really never worked. Bitburg had several very good players and we were able to come up with schemes for them. But Adam … he’s a one of a kind kid you don’t get very often.”
Mike Laue, Bitburg’s coach, thinks Smith’s work on the offensive line was more important. After reviewing film, Smith was credited with an average of 11 “pancake” blocks a game. Such blocks are when opponents are either knocked flat (as a pancake) or driven completely away from the play.
“He can go through your (defensive) line by making a block then take out your linebacker,” Blankenship said. “They broke a few big runs on us that won the game just running behind him.”
Smith puts it a bit differently: “I have a zone. Anyone who’s in that, they’re toast.”
He obviously takes advantage of his size — which is significant by DODDS standards. But Blankenship said it’s more than that.
“Adam’s feet are so quick for a big man,” he said. He also showed good technique in taking on the double team.
Smith and Laue acknowledge that he’s got to get even quicker, build up more strength and refine his technique if he wants to play at a high level in the States. Because he won’t be the largest person on the field any more.
Smith’s already at work doing that.
“You’re going to be talking to a sweaty player,” Laue warns while setting up an interview.
Smith said he’s exchanged correspondence with a number of college coaches and is looking at several I-AA programs right now. He’s played baseball or competed in track in the past, but plans to concentrate on getting stronger and quicker by the time that college starts.
And it’s not much of a choice for him when it comes to offense or defense.
“Definitely offense. I know the play, where I’m supposed to be going and what the snap count is. And I like blocking people.”
But wouldn’t he rather play a higher-profile position, such as quarterback, if he had the choice?
“It might sound funny, but no. I wouldn’t want to play any other position. On the line, you get to hit people every play. At other positions, you avoid getting hit, or if you’re a running back, you get hit a lot.”
Unless you’re facing a 6-3, 315-pound lineman across the line of scrimmage. In which case, a change of direction might be the best course.