OGDENSBURG — When Nolan Rufa was a sophomore, OFA head football coach Matt Tessmer saw “the handwriting on the wall” — the weight room wall, to be specific.
“Nolan was the only sophomore we brought up that year and started at linebacker,” Tessmer said.
Rufa quickly distinguished himself as one of the strong silent types that coaches love. He quietly gets the job done and works very hard to get bigger, stronger and better.
As a junior he started on the offensive line and linebacker and earned second team All-Northern Athletic Conference honors. As a senior he is his team’s only returning all-conference player.
“Nolan always had a tremendous work ethic and he established a great rapport with coaches Tony Williams and Brett Monnat who work with our offensive lineman,” Tessmer said.
“He spent a lot of time with Coach Monnat in the weight room and became a very, very good player. He is very strong and he is a tremendous leader.”
Tessmer and the rest of the Devil staff is looking for the leadership of Rufa and fellow senior captains Jon Rogers and Nick Sweeney to become a vital asset as the Blue Devils look to pick up from the 2013 team.
The 9-2 squad enjoyed remarkable development throughout the roster to become Section 10 and north country Class C Champions after some tenuous moments in the first half of the season.
At 5-foot-10-inches and 195 pounds, Rufa is projected play offensive guard and tackle and be an multi-faceted linebacker. He said he is ready to assume that all-important leadership role for a team that features seven sophomores and is confident that his fellow co-captains and senior classmates are determined to follow the example of last year’s seniors.
“Last year’s seniors were great to play with,” he said. “They wanted to win so bad but they also wanted it to be fun at all times.
“All of our seniors are ready to do that and I know we can. We have younger guys who are learning and my job is to keep them going. I don’t yell a lot but I just want everyone to keep it up and that is what I say.”
Defensive coordinator Charlie McCormick said Rufa doesn’t have to talk a lot because he has a presence about him.
“Nolan is a three-year starter who has been in a lot of big games. He has a calming presence which really helps his teammates,” McCormick said. “He is extremely loyal and he is a great technical player at guard, tackle and linebacker.”
Rufa is looking to contribute at all three positions and believes that the current team is much like last year’s team, citing Dalton, the offensive line and receivers.
Assistant coach Tony Williams said that Rufa’s learning curve is an asset, which helps him lead by example.
“You never have tell Nolan anything twice. You show him what to do and he does it,” Williams said. “If you point out a mistake it is immediately corrected.”