Tussey Mountain has enjoyed a good run of football success in the first three years of Kevin Steele's head coaching reign there, and having dedicated players like seniors Greg Strauss and Sean Foster in the fold has been very instrumental in the Titans' good fortune.
"They're both guys you can build a team around,'' Steele said of Strauss, who will be a three-year starter on both sides of the line, and Foster, who will be a two-year starter on both sides. "They both have a tremendous work ethic. They're both kids who are in the weight room at 6:30 in the morning before school starts over the winter and spring months, working on their conditioning. Other kids really look up to them because of their dedication.''
Strauss, who stands six feet tall and weighs 235 pounds, will be a three-year starter at nose tackle. He's switching to tackle on the offensive line this year after starting at offensive guard the past two years.
Foster, who stands six feet tall and weighs 215 pounds, will be a two-year starter at center and defensive tackle.
"Both are outstanding leaders who know what to expect, and both can help the younger kids on the team with their assignments and responsibilities,'' Steele said.
Strauss views one of his responsibilities as that of being a team leader.
"I think I have an advantage over other people who don't have the experience,'' said Strauss, who is also a member of Tussey's varsity wrestling team. "I think I'm a good role model for the players coming up. I'm a team player, and the other players like me because I'm not real cocky.''
That said, Strauss believes that he must step into a more vocal lead this fall.
"On both offense and defense, I'm trying to be a better vocal leader,'' Strauss said. "I want to try to help keep the momentum of the team [positive]. In the past, I haven't been a very strong vocal leader. But I'm definitely getting better at it.''
Foster also believes that leadership is an important contribution he will need to provide this year's team as it attempts to punch the school's fourth consecutive berth into the District 5 Class A playoffs.
"Being a team leader is very important,'' Foster said. "I lead by example, and other times, by being a vocal leader. We have a lot of younger people on the team, and the success of the team will depend a lot on how well they adjust to the varsity setup.''