Whatever it Takes


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Old Forge senior football player Joe Bruno has made quite an impact on the Blue Devils without being loud or bringing attention to himself.But for three years now, Bruno has been instrumental to the Blue Devils recent run of success, noticeable to those know him best.“I’m pretty quiet. I don’t like saying much,” Bruno said.By just going about his business, not worrying about receiving accolades, Bruno has become a critical member of Old Forge’s line play, particularly on offense, where the running game has paved the way for the team’s success.“He always gives all he has,” Blue Devils coach Mike Schuback said. “He’s a good young man, a quiet, unassuming leader with a tireless engine. He doesn’t stop, never takes a play off.”Bruno just does whatever it takes to be a good player, beneficial to the Blue Devils, who have gotten off to a 5-1 start this season. For someone who has been very pivotal for Old Forge, he still finds ways to become a better player.“I had to get faster,” Bruno said.But not only in the way one would normally associate with after hearing that phrase spoken by a lineman. “I tried to get my hands to be quicker,” Bruno said. “I’d do hand drills on my defensive days.“I also worked on my foot speed and that’s gone well. I was running a 5.3 (seconds in the 40-yard dash), and now it’s 5.1, so that’s been going real well.”With Old Forge able to run the ball effectively, increasing that speed has helped him be able to block one lineman, and not only look downfield to make another block, but to get to the defender to make that block.It’s a part of his makeup that coaches always appreciate seeing in a player.“If he misses a block, he’s the first one to step up and own his mistake,” Schuback said. “His motor is going all the time; he never takes a play off.”That’s more impressive when you realize he’s 6-foot, 3-inches tall, 250 pounds and spends just about the whole game on the line of scrimmage, playing at tackle on offense and somewhere on the defensive line, able to smoothly switch from end to tackle.“He’s a force to contend with; he runs to the ball well,” Schuback said.For all his success on the offensive line, where he has been a starter for three years, Bruno enjoys playing on the other side of the ball. He simply enjoys hitting running backs and quarterbacks after disposing of opposing linemen that get in his way.“I like playing defense; it’s more physical,” Bruno said, “but offense is a close second.”Playing most of the time could be tiring, but the Blue Devils have had their fair share of blowout victories, thus presenting opportunities for the starters like Bruno to rest a little more. Being fresh at this time of year benefits the entire team.“It’s been good. We haven’t been tired in the fourth quarter,” Bruno said. “You have to be able to go 100 percent on every play.”For all his success on the field, Bruno also gives 100 percent in the activities away from the football field and weight room. He is very proud to have been selected for a peer mediation group at Old Forge, where again, his ability to be a leader without saying too much goes over well when dealing with his fellow students.“It’s a group that is picked by the teachers and the students,” said Bruno, who intends to look for a college that has a strong pharmaceutical program and a good football program, including Ivy League school Cornell. “It’s a leadership program, and it’s a nice accomplishment.”His brand of leadership came in handy last year when Schuback needed someone to assume control of the linemen after a teammate was injured and missed valuable playing time.“The minute (Ryan) Paulish got hurt, he stepped up and became the guy up front,” Schuback said. “He did it by his actions, not words. He’s a good young man, an easy-going giant to follow.“He’s got everyone’s respect. Communications-wise, he stepped up to be that leader. “It’s easy for him to be the giant; he clearly has the respect of everybody.”Without saying much, Bruno has made himself a crucial part of Old Forge’s football success.

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