Dressler valued beyond numbers
Even now, looking back on when he came to Lycoming, Sam Dressler says he had few expectations for how his career would go. All he wanted to do was help the Warriors in any way he could.
Doing that meant at times being a special teams contributor. It even meant taking his 5-foot-7, 189-pound frame and playing some fullback. And there’s not a second of it the senior running back would change.
All those moments have helped Dressler reach this point where he’ll play his final game at David Person Field today against Misericordia. He’s having his most productive season for Lycoming in his final season. He enters the final home game of his career as the Warriors’ leading rusher and a player who has progressively been more effective as the season has gone on.
“It’s been a humbling experience, but it’s one I don’t regret,” Dressler said. “Those are some of the best years of my life playing behind Blake (Bowman) and Craig (Needhammer). It was a humbling experience, but it was a good one in the end.”
Dressler came to Lycoming as a nearly 4,000-yard career rusher at Danville as the Ironmen’s program surged to a District 4 championship in 2012 and another district finals appearance in 2013. But he was just never able to crack a backfield for significant carries which featured the school’s all-time leading rusher in Needhammer and the fifth all-time leading rusher in Bowman.
Dressler simply waited for his opportunity, which finally came this year. He was in a three-way battle for a starting spot with Dante Gipson and Jacob Fimbres. It was a battle which was close enough that head coach Mike Clark was working on plans to get all three involved in the game somehow.
But Fimbres tore his ACL before the first game of the season and Gipson has been a multi-faceted threat for the Warriors who is second in the Middle Atlantic Conference in all-purpose yards. Dressler has been a key piece for a Lycoming offense which has found its footing after a slow start to the season against some of the toughest defenses on its schedule.
Dressler leads the Warriors with 277 rushing yards this season, but the total number of yards doesn’t do justice to how effective Dressler has been. Instead, look at his yards per carry. Game-by-game it has grown from just 2.18 yards per carry in the season opener against Susquehanna to 5.08 in the Warriors’ last game against Widener.
As much as the Lycoming offense has evolved under Clark to include more perimeter runs to space, it still maintains its inside zone base, where Dressler has excelled.
“That’s what he does. He’s a really good between-the-tackles runner,” Clark said. “He’s got good balance and he finishes his run. His strength is no different than when he played in the Wing-T at Danville. He’s a between-the-tackles kind of guy and that’s good. As much now as we want to get the ball on the perimeter and do some things, there’s something to be said for running the ball at people, and he’s good at that.”
Dressler has always been a selfless player. It’s why when he came to Lycoming he wasn’t focused on expectations for himself. He just wanted to help the Warriors win.
His focus to this day is on completing his assignment on each snap. When the football is put in his hands, he hits the hole with a quickness and a fury. If there’s a seam there he busts through like an arrow through a wet napkin.
His value is in the simplicity in how he plays the game. His strength is getting downhill in a hurry, so that’s what he does.
“I just get the ball and run,” Dressler said with a smile. “I don’t try to think about too much every play. I just try to do the best I can and run behind the good offensive line we have.”
“Sam has become our best traditional tailback in the role we’ve played,” Clark said. “He understands it the best. He has the vision and the patience. He has a great understanding of where we’re trying to run the ball. He might be as fast as Blake was, but he’s super intelligent, he’s a good pass protector and he’s been phenomenal attitude-wise.”
Dressler’s future likely involves working in medicine. The senior is a biology major with a focus on anatomy and physiology. His teammates call him Dr. Dressler because he’ll show up late to practice once a week because of labs he has to take.
But that’s all in the future for Dressler. For now, he’s focused on today’s game, his final home game with Lycoming. He’s focused on helping the Warriors get the first of what is hopefully three wins to close the season. And he’s focused on enjoying his final time playing at David Person Field.
“It’s crazy to think four years have gone by this fast,” Dressler said. “So this is crazy to play our last football games here and our last football games ever. It’s going to be really emotional, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”