DEERFIELD — If Deerfield wins its last two football games and becomes postseason eligible, it will likely be because of what the Warriors do best.
Quite often, that’s hand the ball to junior fullback Johnny Fisher.
“The fullback position is a bit of a misnomer. You think of a big, thick-necked guy who will block for you,” coach Steve Winiecki said. “[Fisher] is the hitter always coming to bat who has home run potential.”
When contemplating Fisher’s value in the Deerfield offense, consider this — in the Warriors’ past two victories, Oct. 3 over Glenbrook North and Friday over Maine West, Fisher rushed for 366 yards. In the 47-14 victory over Maine West, he scored four touchdowns.
In the Warriors’ triple-option scheme, the fullback is much more than a blocker.
“Physically, you have to be fast and big, which is very hard to do. It takes a lot of hard work to build muscle to take hits against the big linebackers,” Fisher said. “And you have to keep your speed so you can bust it in the open field and be in a foot race with the [defensive backs].”
It shouldn’t be a surprise the 6-foot, 180-pound Fisher spends hours in the weight room. Lifts like the bench press and squats build the necessary upper- and lower-body muscle to bounce off would-be tacklers.
This summer and into the season, Fisher integrated crossfit methods into his workouts. With power cleans, he puts 60 percent of his body weight on a barbell and performs one clean repetition in the first minute. He adds one repetition for every successive minute.
“By the eighth minute, you only have 15 seconds to rest as you have to do [eight repetitions]. It increases the reps while decreasing the time,” Fisher said. “Crossfit is good for maintaining all of your agility.”
Fisher added that he notices the impact of the workouts late in games. Rather than tiring, he feels stronger.
“During a hard workout I want to stop and cheat but its training your body to say no,” he said. “You can have that first-quarter shape in the fourth.”
On Friday, Fisher and the Warriors travel to Maine East for what is effectively an elimination game. At 3-4, the Deerfield must win out (the Warriors play Niles North on Oct. 24) to get the five wins necessary to qualify for a playoff berth. The program faced the same scenario in 2012. That season, the Warriors won their last four games to finish 5-4. They failed to earn enough regular season points to make the postseason.
Winiecki said if Deerfield gets to five wins, he’s confident they’ll be playing the next weekend.
“We’re ahead of the spot [to qualify]. The schedule this season is much more difficult,” he said.
Players said knowing the team has a shot at the postseason is motivational fuel for practices.
“We have one eye on the next game and one eye on the future,” senior lineman Scott Garcia said.