It's a good thing Tim Wade has never developed a mental block about performing his primary duty for La Salle High's football team.
If so, Jamal Abdur-Rahman would not be such a productive rusher. And who knows? Perhaps he would not have scored the clinching touchdown Saturday at blustery Northeast High as La Salle bested Easton, 19-7, in a PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal.
How did it happen? On an interception return.
Who delivered a teeth-rattling block? Good, ol' Tim Wade.
Yes, even while playing defense, on which the 5-9, 185-pound junior serves only four to six plays per game as a blitzing outside linebacker, the starting fullback can't put aside his path-clearing passion.
Here's the setup . . .
La Salle led, 13-7, thanks to the second, a 26-yarder, of sophomore Ryan Winslow's two field goals, but Easton had the wind at its back and 2 more minutes to try to drive downfield for the winning score.
Cameron Cappo's sack made it second-and-18 and, along La Salle's sideline, the coaches were yelling, "Wade! . . . Wade!" In Tim scurried and out fluttered a left-side swing pass, directly into Abdur-Rahman's arms at the Easton 37. Next stop: End zone!
"After I came in to blitz, I turned around and all I see is Jamal intercepting the ball and running down the field," Wade said. "I was like, 'I have to lead him through.' And then I pancaked a guy."
Not just any guy.
"This kid was talking trash the whole game," Wade said. "Just would not shut up. It was pretty exciting to lay him out. Pretty sweet."
Abdur-Rahman, a cornerback when not playing tailback or wildsplorering, said the pick-six was the first of his career, including all levels. His eyes were focused on the end zone, he added, so he didn't happen to notice Wade's shoulderwork.
"I bet he did," he said. "I'll see it on film.
"He gives it 110 percent every play. He's a small guy, but he works harder than most guys in the state. Kudos to him. He always does well."
Said Wade: "I've been playing football since I was a little kid, and always at fullback, so I've been blocking my whole life. I'm just used to it. I love trying to help us get big plays, so we can win. I especially love going against the top-notch linebackers, and I'm trying to show I'm better than them."
Often, it's almost as if defenders have to tackle Abdur-Rahman and Wade, as they appear to be attached while advancing downfield.
In this game, the Villanova-bound Abdur-Rahman garnered 108 yards on 17 carries. Wade managed 28 on six. Those guys were prominent on the one La Salle drive that produced a touchdown, quarterback Matt Magarity's 1-yard sneak (half-yard, actually) 4 minutes, 35 seconds into the third quarter.
Abdur-Rahman ripped off wildsplorer runs of 10 and 18 yards. Wade then bulled 8 more to the 1. Though he believed it had been 9 yards to the 0.
"I was pretty confused and mad," he said. "I thought I was in the end zone. After the game a lot of people said they had pictures of me with the ball over the goal line, and even my hips . . . Ah, we scored. That's all that matters."
Wade's uncle, Joe Wade, assists coach Drew Gordon with La Salle's running backs and Tim was a fan of the school's football team well before he enrolled. He lives in Doylestown, and the commute is roughly 40 minutes, so attending the school does involve some sacrifice.
Tim's dad, also named Tim, played for a spell at Ryan and his dad's cousin - you got it, his name is Tim, too - earned second-team coaches' All-Catholic honors for Ryan in 1989 at linebacker.
That last Tim can compare snow stories with the current Tim. La Salle Tim started last year for the state-title squad that notched two of its playoff wins in blizzards. And '89 Ryan Tim was one of the defensive heroes in a scoreless Thanksgiving tie - played on snow from the night before - vs. George Washington that holds a prominent spot in city lore (most games that day were called off).
As for this game's defensive masters . . . Connor Daly made 12 stops, with seven being solos. Sean Burke (nine, five) and Joe Naji (eight, four) were next in line. Abdur-Rahman posted four tackles along with what likely were the day's two best pops.
Along with the best foray.
"Get that touchdown. I knew it could clinch the game," Abdur-Rahman said. "That was my whole mindset."