Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 4, 2013

Giles’ single wing attack is a snap for Suroski

By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PEARISBURG, Va. — It might be the most overlooked position on the football field.

Not at Giles.

The center at Giles is more than just a guy who snaps the ball back to a quarterback.

Nope, Brett Suroski is more than just a center for the Spartans.  

“He is what I like to call our quarterback,” Giles head coach Jeff Williams said. “We don’t just snap it back in an area where a guy can catch it.

“Those snaps have to be pinpoint to certain areas and that is what they do and he has just done a great job of it.”

How good? Suroski has snapped the ball an infinite amount of times this season for the 13-0 Spartans, and can remember all his mistakes.

There haven’t been many of them.

How about ... one?

Even though the Giles coaching staff doesn’t keep up with Suroski’s percentage of successful snaps, the soft-spoken 5-foot-9, 282-pound junior can recall his ‘many’ miscues.

“I know I messed up one time,” said Suroski, who had one mis-snap in a win over Radford earlier this season. “It is a lot of pressure.”

Suroski and the Spartans will look to continue a dream season on Saturday by hosting Riverheads (12-1) in the Group 2A state semifinals in Pearisburg. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.

“I have been dreaming about this since I was in the fourth grade,” he said.

Giles has run the single wing offense since former head coach Stephen Ragsdale installed it 1978. All the Spartans have done is win three state titles since then — in 1980, ‘93 and 2005 — and they’re still running the same plays that Suroski started running when he first began playing the game.

“I have played it since fourth grade,” said Suroski, who doesn’t find the single wing offense as complicated as the defenses trying to stop it. “Not really, because I grew up with it.

“I have just been playing it since fourth grade and I have been coached to do it since then.”

Suroski has followed in the footsteps of several Giles centers who have played huge role in building a tradition that has continued for 35 years.

After all, it is the center who snaps the ball to someone, possibly either a halfback, fullback, blocking back, whoever is slated to get the ball. Suroski knows, the defense doesn’t.

“Bubba Workman, Donnie Miller, Cory Martin,” said Suroski, naming off just a few former Giles centers. “All are very good players.”

Add Suroski to that list.

“He has done a tremendous job for us,” Williams said. “We started out and he was our second team center and then John Jennelle was our starting center and he broke his hand in the Blacksburg game.

“We had to move Brett in there. It is nice when you have got a guy hurt and stick the next guy in there and not miss a beat.”

All Suroski has done is put a clamp on the position. Jennelle is back, but at guard, with the line continuing its dominance at the point of attack.

“Brett is a strong kid and he works hard,” Williams said. “He has just done a tremendous job of snapping the football and blocking, I just can’t say enough about him.”

No one appreciates Suroski, Jennelle and the rest of the offensive line — which includes Cody Rhodes, Hunter Epperly, Chantry Pennington, Cameron Perkins and Brandon Harless — more than Brett Whitlow, Brian Mann, Tyler Perdue and other speedy backs , who have run for daylight all season long for the Spartans.

“They are really good,” Mann said. “The coaching staff tries to put them in a good situation and coaches work them hard every day in practice.”

The Giles offensive unit looked like a machine last Friday night in a 48-14 win over Richlands, including a 41-7 lead at the break. All the Spartans did in that game was run for 425 yards, led by Whitlow and Mann, who combined for 417 yards and seven touchdowns.

That includes six touchdowns of at least 23 yards — including 69, 76 and 45 yards in the opening quarter — all of which brought a big smile from Suroski, and appreciation from his backs.

“It is great,” Suroski said. “That means we did our job and we did it good.”

While most offensive lines, and especially the center, are often anonymous on the football field, Whitlow, Mann and friends are quick to credit the men in the middle, and they are appreciative of the recognition.

“We love it, we eat it up every time we come up here,” Suroski said. “Our backs give us a lot of praise and they should, but they do their job at well.”

Giles will face Riverheads on Saturday, a former Division 1 school that runs out of a winged-T attack, and likes to run the ball much like the Spartans, whose defense has quietly been effective all season, having allowed 14 or fewer points in seven of their last nine games.

 “I guess our d-line has got to keep up with what they are doing and our linebackers and DBs have to keep it up too,” said Suroski, who doesn’t play defense, but did analyze what that underrated unit must do. “They have done a great job this year.”

As for what the Spartans have to do offensively against the Gladiators, it’s nothing the Giles offensive line hasn’t done all season long — and in reality — for the last 35 years.

“We have to stay low, come off the ball and Coach Williams said we have just got to sled them down the field,” Suroski said.

Toward Salem?

The winner of Saturday’s game will face either Buckingham County (10-3) or Brunswick (11-2) in the Group 2A state finals on Dec. 14 in Salem, Va.

“I don’t think any of us expected to be here,” said Suroski, who also admits he never expected the Spartans to be 13-0 at this point in the season. “I think that is what drove us to be good though.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

bwoodson@bdtonline.com