Battle in the trenches

Ethan Magoc photo: Mercyhurst College senior two-sport star, Fred Hale, is the leader of the defense on the football team and may be a key member of the wrestling team.Ethan Magoc photo: Mercyhurst College senior two-sport star, Fred Hale, is the leader of the defense on the football team and may be a key member of the wrestling team.Defense wins championships. Coaches across the nation preach this to every team.

Mercyhurst College football is no different.

Although a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship has yet to come Mercyhurst’s way, the team’s defense has won some big games during the past few seasons.

Senior Fred Hale has led this defensive attack the past two seasons.

Hale became a regular his sophomore year, starting every game at defensive end. He kept his performance level high and earned the starting job again in 2009.

Now, at the start of his senior year, Hale is playing at his highest level as one of the key leaders on defense.

I see myself as a leader. I try to lead by example by always working hard and trying to do right,” Hale said.

The “right” path on the field has sent success Hale’s way since 2008. Last year, Hale recorded a career high 41 tackles, 13.5 of which were for a loss of a combined 50 yards. Hale is off to a flying start in 2010, already recording 15 tackles.

Hale focuses hard before each snap in order to get the best reads he can.

“I personally key on the offensive lineman’s stance and where his weight is distributed prior to the snap,” said Hale. “I just try to do my job and my responsibility, knowing the person next to me will do their job too.”

However, the job of a defensive end is not all that glamorous.

Since Mercyhurst plays a 3-4 defense, there are only three defensive linemen going up against five offensive linemen.

“Even though most of the time the defensive ends are getting single or double teamed, our nose tackles are getting it worse with double and triple teams every play,” Hale said.

This challenge only motivates them to play faster and harder, creating opportunities for the linebackers and defensive backs.

“I feel Alex Trouten, Serge Augustine and Dusty Galich, our three nose tackles, do a really good job at taking on the centers and guards, allowing our linebackers to make plays,” Hale said.

Currently, Hale stands with 91 total tackles in his career, 25 of which were for a loss of yards.

Hale has also forced two fumbles in his career while recording nine sacks as well.

Hale’s athleticism doesn’t just stop on the field.

After not wrestling since high school, Hale almost qualified for nationals last year.

“Right now, I’m really focused on football, but I’m also excited for the wrestling season and what that will bring.”

This two-sport collegiate athlete stops at nothing when it comes to the sports he loves.

No one has to try to motivate him.

He comes ready to play and loves doing it.

“I am primarily motivated by the fact that it is my senior year and I know I’ll never get this opportunity to play again,” Hale said.

Fans can get their opportunity to see Hale play this weekend, as the Lakers welcome the Eagles of Lock Haven University for their annual Homecoming game at 1 p.m.