By Jonathan Deal
Tanner head coach Laron White knows a thing or two about defensive linemen. He played defensive tackle at Courtland where he won three state championships and then at Alabama where he won a national championship.
So, it’s only fitting the 11th year coach would have a defensive lineman on the All-State team for the second consecutive season. The latest dominant D-lineman to come out of Tanner is Baltazar “Tito” Rubio, who is the News Courier’s 2013 Defensive Player of the Year.
“I coach that position, so it makes me proud,” said White. “We don’t just fly up the field. There is a lot of technique that goes into it. It’s a lot of sacrifice because we’re trying to keep those blockers off the linebackers. They are unselfish and are still able to make plays.”
Tito, as he is know by his teammates, made plently of plays. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior finished with 68 tackles, seven sacks and a county-best 26 tackles for loss. That’s nearly two tackles for loss each game, something remarkable for a player whose job it is to take on blockers so that linebackers can make plays.
“One thing, (other teams) hopefully will have to pay more attention to us and that will free up everyone us to make a tackle,” said defensive tackle Seth Smith. “You can’t be selfish. It’s all about helping the team out. Whether you make the tackle or not, you have to do your job.”
Smith and Rubio routinely blew up opposing offensive lines, something they achieved because of their elite athletisism and superior strength.
“He’s the strongest guy on the team,” said White. “When we’re out there hitting the pad, when he hits the pad, it’s different from everybody else. He is very strong, and it makes him tough to block. When he wants to get on somebody, it pretty much destroys them.”
Rubio was recently named a finalist for the 2A Lineman of the Year in Alabama High School Football. When ask what separates him from other lineman, Rubio remained humble and quiet as he did throughout his career at Tanner.
“I just work hard,” said Rubio. “I’ve always been kind of strong. I just went out and played.”