Aaron Fant is a linebacker and a fullback, in that order.
The senior from Willingboro is a willing blocker and surprisingly effective runner for the Holy Cross football team. But there's a simple reason why he prefers defense to offense.
"I like hitting people more than I like getting hit," Fant said.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Fant will lead Holy Cross (7-3) into today's state Non-Public 2 championship game against Hudson Catholic (7-3) at Rutgers Stadium.
It's a familiar spot for Fant and the Lancers. The fullback who prefers to play linebacker scored two touchdowns in the state-title game last year as Holy Cross beat Gloucester Catholic, 17-0.
Of course, it was defense that made the difference for the Lancers last season. Fant figures the same thing can happen again today.
"Last year, we were missing our quarterback," he said, referring to all-South Jersey quarterback Tommy Reilly, who missed last year's state title game with a foot injury. "So we had to run the ball and play defense. We're going to have to do that again."
Under first-year coach Tim McAneney, Holy Cross has become a run-oriented team after years as one of the most pass-happy programs in the state. That's worked out great for Fant, who has flourished as a blocker and runner in the Lancers' attack.
"You can't run our offense without a fullback who can block, and Aaron is a beast," McAneney said. "But he also needs to be able to run to keep defenses honest as far as protecting the middle. Aaron gives us that.
"We're going to need him in this game. You get in a tough playoff game, you can't rely on being able to get outside the tackles. You have to get the tough yards inside."
That's what happened last year, as Fant scored touchdowns on runs of 35 and 3 yards. It was his first two-touchdown game of the season, and it came with the state championship on the line.
"I never expected that," Fant said. "I didn't think I would run the ball that much."
This season, Fant has focused on blocking for halfbacks Kevin Raymond, Dan Dash and Dai'Shon Munger. He's been comfortable with the Lancers' switch from a pass-heavy offense to a run-oriented team.
"We've had to change our mind-set a little bit," he said. "It didn't affect me that much, because as a fullback, I didn't carry the ball that much. I kind of liked the switch."
Fant also has made his mark on defense.
"I don't see many linebackers who get downhill faster than he does and get to the ball," McAneney said.
Fant's future likely is on defense, playing linebacker or perhaps strong safety for a college program.
Even though he plans on continuing his football career after today, he's determined to make the most of his last game in a Lancers uniform.
"Senior year, last game, state championship," Fant said. "We know how we want to finish up."