SPRINGVILLE — Springville’s Tyler Studd was one of Western New York’s premier defensive ends, a year ago, during his First Team All-State and All-WNY season. Studd has graduated.
However, Springville does not need to search for a defensive end, to replace the two-way starter who led Section VI with 13 sacks, because the Griffs have Brandon Ball.
A senior now, Ball played opposite Studd last year and quietly recorded nine sacks, in his junior campaign. Ball will make the move to strong side D-end, this season.
Ball was a two-way starter on a Springville team that played at Ralph Wilson Stadium last fall.
“I expect nothing less than last year,” Ball said. “We all expect to get back to the stadium and get a win there, this year. We return a lot of our skill position guys, most of our backfield and our slot backs.”
Days before camp opened for Springville, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Ball broke the school record at the teams lifting assessments, in both the squat, with 515 pounds and the power clean, with 245 pounds.
He also benched 330 pound. As a defensive end, Ball has the strength and the speed, as well. He runs a 4.9 40-yard dash, that ranked him ninth on the team and the fastest, out of the linemen.
“The way Brandon carries himself is evidence of 100 percent commitment,” head coach John Sopko said. “He’s not, ‘Hey, look at me’ or a ‘Hey coach, compliment me’ type of kid. He’s very appreciative, humble and you can just always count on him.”
Ball is now a captain and leader on the team. Throughout the off-season and the first two weeks of camp, Sopko said he likes what he sees from his standout.
“I think there is merit to that quiet hard work,” Sopko noted. “Brandon has been a peer; his teammates know what he’s done, to get to this point. They respect that. He doesn’t need to make any additional noise, to get their attention.”
Ball began weight lifting as a sophomore, but kicked it into gear after falling to Alden in the Class B Championship game that ended his junior year. Ball played a key role in getting kids to come to the captain’s practices and the other workouts, clinics and 7-on-7 workouts that were held over the summer.
“I realized that I only had one year left and I had to make the best of it,” Ball said.
“We came closer together as a team, we know what to expect from each other, this year, and we know what we’re capable of. We just have to go out and try our hardest, every day, knowing any day could be your last.”
Ball’s best performance last year came in the Class B semifinal against Cheektowaga. He had six tackles and two sacks, to lead the Griffs’ defense.
Ball had another solid game against Dunkirk, sacking the Marauders’ quarterback a career-high three times. As a junior, he very rarely came off the field.
He also starts at guard, on the offensive line, and handles the Griffs’ kicking duties.
Sopko also said that that Ball also might take over the punting responsibilities, this season.
“He’s not going into the season looking to put up his own numbers,” Sopko said. “He’s thinking about what he has to do to help the team win. He’s not going to want to come off the field, but we’re going to have to be creative in getting him off the field, once in awhile. He’s just an anchor.”
Ball, who is projected as an All-WNY candidate for small schools, said he is excited about a defense that returns seven starters from a unit that was already one of the best in Section VI, in 2012.
“We should have a pretty good year, defensively,” Ball said.
“Our team goal is to hold our opponents under 100 points, for the entire year. We really want to get back to The Ralph. We start the season off with a league game [against Eden], so we know we can’t waste any time this year; we have to get started right away.”
Ball also holds himself to very high academic standards. He finished the 2012-2013 with a 97 grade point average, which ranked him fifth in his class.
“He an extremely outstanding student,” Sopko noted.
“He’s a kid who has done a lot, to get where he is. He’s the kind of kid that would help his mother, be available for his brother, work a job, work another job, but then he’s always there at the team activities. He stands out to me, out of all of the captains I’ve had, going back to 1988 because he just takes care of things. He does everything that he’s committed to do.”