Linemen are the hardest-working players on the football field. But they don’t always love to put in the work at the end of practice.
After doing drills, hitting sleds and going live, linemen will sometimes cramp up before it’s time to end a hard day of practice with sprints. And typically, the bigger the linemen, the less they like running.
Shamir Roache isn’t most linemen.
Roache, a senior defensive tackle on the Northeast High School football team, doesn’t just like running, he loves it. His speed is what makes him such an asset to the Vikings defense. Sure, the massive grunt weighs nearly 290 pounds, but he’s fast. So fast, in fact, that he’s a member of the Northeast track team, running the 100-meter race.
“People look at me like, ‘What is he doing out here,’ ” Roache said. “But I love it. I went out for track because I knew I had to get faster for football. I knew I had to have better footwork, and it helped me a lot with that. I got good footwork now.
“I wanted to be a better football player, but I actually like running. I don’t mind. I’m the fastest lineman on this team. Well, not the defensive end. They have nice speed. But of the tackles, yeah, I’d say I’m the fastest.”
Northeast is quick to rack up the wins this season. On Thursday night, the Vikings bested Simon Gratz 30-6 to win their fourth game in five tries.
The defense hung tough, surrendering just one scoring drive in the first half, and stymied the Bulldogs the rest of the game. It marked the second game of the year for Northeast quarterback Charles Britt, who was given an extra year of eligibility prior to Northeast’s win a week earlier over Martin Luther King.
For Roache, who had four sacks in the win over King, he’s not in it for the glory.
As a defensive tackle, he typically isn’t going to put up big numbers since he often sees double teams. But he knows his role and he’s willing to do it.
He feels that’s what makes this team so special.
“We’re a family and nobody cares who does what,” Roache said. “It’s a family. We just want to win. If I do my job, the rest of the defense does what they did tonight. If I’m taking care of blockers, the other guys are going to make the plays. So I might not have the tackles, but I did my part.
“And man, our offense, they can put up points in a hurry. Our defense gets a lot of credit, people always talk about it, but it’s not our defense. It’s not our offense. It’s about the team. It’s about what we do together as a team. We a family.”
It might be a team effort, but Roache did put in work on his own.
Last year, he didn’t get on the field much. He transferred into Northeast prior to his junior year and he went out for the football team, but he admits he wasn’t ready to play varsity football. He was raw and wasn’t a great football player, but he had the desire to learn. Then he started working with Northeast defensive coordinator Deion Barnes, a Northeast grad who went on to play at Penn State and later in the NFL, and he taught him everything he needed to know to become a good player.
It’s a work in progress, but he’s definitely on the right track.
“There was so much I had to learn and I had to be better, fundamentally,” Roache said. “I had to do better with technique. I had to be smarter. It was hard. Learning how to play football is hard. I had to learn it all and break bad habits. Coach Barnes helped me a whole lot. He is the reason I’m playing the way I am.”
There’s still a lot of work to do.
The Vikings have won three straight Public League Class 6A championships, but they’ve been unable to get over the hump in the District 12 championship game. Three times they’ve met St. Joe’s Prep, and while they’ve hung tough a few times, they’ve yet to knock Prep from its throne.
That could change, according to Roache.
“I think we’re the best in the Public League, best in the state, best in the nation when we play the way we’re capable of,” Roache said. “We’re so good. I don’t think people know how good we are. We haven’t played the way we can yet. We are so good when we have everything going. But we know if we don’t, we can lose.”
Roache isn’t just working to make the Vikings better, he’s working hard to make himself better.
He hopes to continue his football career next year. He’s also working hard in the classroom to make sure he’s able to find a college where he can continue to better himself in school and as a football player.
He’s got the size and speed, he now just needs the chance.
“I want to go somewhere and major in sport science,” Roache said. “I love sports so much, but I want to get a good education so I can keep being involved in sports. I’m hoping someone gives me a chance.”
He’ll drop everything and run to the opportunity.
After all, he’s proven to be one of the fastest big guys around.
“I love when people tell me that I’m fast for my size,” Roache said. “I worked really hard to get fast and I’m working hard to get faster. The faster I am, the better I’ll be and I want to be really good.”