FAIRFAX — High school linemen had many adjustments to make this fall as their positions were phased out under the 7v7 football format.
Before the 2020 season, Kenny Salls, a lineman for the BFA Fairfax/LU football team, had never played a skilled position.
“It took a little adjustment, and I did a lot of studying of the plays and the playbook,” said Salls.
“It’s different to go from blocking someone to running the ball, but I’ve liked it a lot.”
Salls and high school football players across the state spent the summer preparing for the tackle season.
“After we heard about the 7v7 season, I got a call telling me that I might be a wide receiver this year,” said Salls.
“I thought that sounded fun; I’ve always wanted to be a ball carrier.”
Salls wasted no time securing his first touchdown, scoring in the first game of the season against Burlington.
“It was a long run! It was tiring, but it was a great feeling to get that touchdown,” said Salls.
“I’m so used to watching guys like Noah Brock and Jaxon Schaardschmidt score. There were times I did kind of wish I was there.”
Salls, who attends Lamoille Valley Union High School, played for the Patriots youth football program as a kid and now for the combined BFA/LU football team.
“I’ve met so many people I’d never have met if I didn’t play football; they’ve become some of my best friends,” said Salls.
“I love the coaching staff. Coach Sleeman has been talking with me since my seventh-grade year. He even calls me through the offseason.
“He’s smart about football, and our defensive coaches and special teams coaches have taught me a lot as well.”
Salls has loved the game of football since he was a kid.
“It was always fun to hit people in tackle, but I also get to spend time with people who mean a lot to me,” said Salls.
“I love the concept of the game and the amount of time and energy you have to invest in it. You can always get better at the sport.”
Salls has played in many football games, but it’s the time spent with the team that stands out.
“Before every home game, we go into the gym, listen to music, and spend time together. That’s something I’ll never forget,” said Salls.
“The ride to the 2019 championship game is another time I’ll always remember! Even though we didn’t win, riding the bus and playing with that group of boys meant so much.”
This year, as a junior, Salls was nominated as a captain of the team.
“When I was a freshman, and my brother Jared was a senior, I watched him lead the team. He was a really good leader, and I learned a lot from him.
“Jared is one of my inspirations; everybody knows me as Jared’s younger brother. I’ve had big shoes to fill,” said Salls.
“My mom and dad, Sharon and Scott, have always motivated me to do my best, and I can’t thank them enough.”
There’s no championship to be played this fall, but Salls is still enjoying the season.
“This season is about having a good time with the boys and scoring as many touchdowns and accumulating as many yards as I can.”
Fairfax/LU coach Craig Sleeman spoke of Salls contributions on offense this year.
“Kenny has scored in each of our three games, and he’s had 16 catches as a lineman playing as a wide receiver,” said Sleeman.
“He’s a team leader and does a great job as a captain. He has a great work ethic and sets an excellent example for the younger linemen.”
Sleeman noted that Salls travels from Lamoille to Fairfax for weight room work and doesn’t miss a summer workout.
“Kenny prepares for this. He’s a great athlete; he puts the time and hard work in,” said Sleeman.
“Others see that success, and they know if they work hard, they can have it too. He does a great job leading in that way.”