His football coach once manned an offensive line in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But there are 1,053 more reasons Christ School senior Ellis Pace appreciates good blocking.
Pace (1,053 yards, nine touchdowns) is enjoying the best season of his career behind a massive bunch of blockers that includes a couple 300-pounders — Austin Cooke (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) and Malik Johnson (6-4, 325 pounds).
And there is no shortage of size elsewhere in Dalton Friel (6-3, 250 pounds), Walker Lanning (6-4, 250 pounds) and the team’s center, Matt Seely (6-3, 220 pounds).
Of that group, only Friel and Seely are seniors.
“I have a huge line, and I’m blessed for that,” Pace said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to show what I can do.”
Cooke and Lanning transferred over the summer from East Henderson, which won the 2012 Western North Carolina Athletic Conference championship.
Pace’s fullback is junior Steven Fletcher, a 6-foot, 215-pound junior who has rushed for 172 yards.
“There is no question, Ellis does a phenomenal job of reading blocks and anticipating defenders,” said Christ School coach Mark Moroz, whose playing background includes work in the trenches at Wake Forest.
“But this is a rivalry game, and you have to throw out the records and stats. We think we know what we’re going to get. But you really can’t account for the tricks plays and other stuff that come into a game like this.”
Pace is a Henderson County resident who has been a Christ School student since the eighth grade. He was one of eight current Greenies selected to the All-Carolina Piedmont Football Conference team in 2012 along with leading tackler Jack Bonds (77), Friel, Johnson and Seely, kicker Stephen Bridges, kicker Jack Pace and defensive back/wide receiver Marshall Ranson.
Asheville School leads the series, 50-32-4 and won 84-0 in the first meeting 102 years ago.
But Christ School has prevailed in five of the last six games and will be a heavy favorite today in West Asheville. Named after two veteran coaches at the Buncombe County private schools, the Fayssoux-Arbogast trophy has gone to the winner of this game every year since 1971.
Since the introduction of the trophy, the series is even at 20-20-1.
“This is always an extremely exciting week around campus,” Pace said.
“It’s always a better feeling when you win. Hopefully, we can go in there (today) and do that. There is nothing like having an entire school behind you. It brings a lot of excitement. And then you see the crowd and realize it’s a privilege to play in this game.”
Each of the programs has lost in the NCISAA Division II championship game the past two years, and Christ School will try to improve its positioning for a playoff seed this afternoon.
First-year starting quarterback Landon Archangelo (627 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions) has placed the majority of his passes in the hands of Pace (eight receptions for 208 yards and three touchdowns) and Anthony Vaglica (seven receptions for 157 yards and three touchdowns).
After Bonds, the top tacklers for Christ School have been Lanning (58) and Seely (48).