Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

November 1, 2012

Ashland's BarriCade

Defensive stopper O’Bryan plays like the little guy

ASHLAND — Cade O’Bryan knew he couldn’t keep up the scorching pace.

If he had, he’d be sitting on 80

defensive touchdowns right now.

Heck, the first one nearly blew his mind — it was a first-quarter 34-yard scoop-and-score off a fumble recovery during a Week 1 defeat of Lawrence County.

“After the first one I was thinking, well, this is never going to happen again,” said O’Bryan on Tuesday.

It did. A minute and 14 seconds later, in fact. This one was twice the distance, though, at 69 yards.

“I was running, and in the back of my mind I was thinking, somebody’s got to be close to me,” O’Bryan said with a smile. “I see what the running backs go through, because I was tired after that one.”

The spurt

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound O’Bryan used to be a running back and linebacker. That’s when he didn’t like football all that much, in Junior Football League and middle school days.

Baseball had a firm grip on his heart all the way through childhood.

But, upon entering high school, O’Bryan hit an astonishing seven-inch growth spurt. He was bigger, faster, and he could hit much harder. Football became his favorite.

As for his heart, it always seemed big for his body. So, in a sense, he was just growing into it.

Good friend and senior teammate Cody Watts said it was impossible to take notice of O’Bryan’s passion from the first day he stepped onto the same playing field as O’Bryan, back in second grade.

“He’s always had a big heart, and he’s got a nonstop motor,” Watts said. “He plays almost like somebody undersized while he’s actually bigger than guys he plays.

“He’s the heart of our defense,” added Watts.

According to Watts (5-8, 180), he and O’Bryan were about the same size until sophomore year.

“When we came back to school after sophomore summer, I was like ‘What have they been feeding you?’” Watts recalled.

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