Tanner Pattison has no issue with being one part of the running back trio that the Sudbury Spartans unveiled in opening the 2022 NFC season with a 42-24 road win over the North Bay Bulldogs on Saturday.
Both Pattison and Brandon Salem reached the end zone for rushing majors while the third RB, Owen Ingram, had the most carries of the trio.
With a revamped offensive line with some depth in place with the Spartans, all should have the chance to shine.
"I have to credit it mostly to our O line," said Pattison, two years removed from his playing days with the St Benedict Bears and finishing with 43 yards on nine carries. "The holes in the lanes were just crazy that game; their blocking was amazing."
Pattison would allow the visitors to draw first blood, crossing the goal line on a five yard run midway through the first as the Spartans built up a 28-0 lead by half-time. Adam Rocha (1 yd QB sneak), Zack Primeau (15 yd pass from Rocha) and Victor Paajanen (13 yd pass from Rocha) all added to the TD parade, with kicker Massimo Cimino splitting the uprights with five PATs to go along with a single.
Paajanen would add a second half score (10 yd pass from Rocha), as did Salem, who bulldozed his way home from five yards out. It is, without doubt, a very young backfield combo for coach Junior Labrosse, but one in which each component understands their role.
"I'm kind of a short, stocky guy, a little bit faster than most of the lineman," suggested Pattison. "It's a little bit harder for the smaller guys to tackle me. I'm kind of that in-between type of guy."
Unlike some who make their way to the Spartans directly off illustrious high-school careers, Pattison actually initially cut his teeth on the defensive side of the ball, making the move to running back in his final year with the Bears.
Having first suited up for NFC action in 2019, the dedicated young athlete has already learned of the adjustments that he needed to make. "I had to change almost my whole game," he suggested with a smile.
"In high-school, I was a very contact first type of back. Now I have to rely on my cuts. I was used to being one of the bigger guys in high-school; I'm not the biggest guy on the field now."
With 43 players dressed for the game in North Bay, the Spartans featured a very healthy blend of NFC vets (Erik Conrad, Joe Shyminsky, Chris Tarini, Andrew Gillis and Kyle Henri, among others), a nice influx of relatively recent or still current high-school talent (Zack Primeau, Ben Cacciotti, Andrew Kilby, Robby Zulich, Adam Pagan and such) as well as some very talented newcomers to town.
"I will be a Spartan until the day I can't play," he beamed. "Honestly, the team atmosphere is just awesome. Ya, the guys can get a bit rowdy at practice and stuff like that - but at the end of the day, we're all like brothers; everyone is here to help each other out."
The Spartans are back on the road for one more week, facing the Toronto Phantom Raiders this coming Saturday before returning home to welcome the Soo Steelers to town on Saturday, June 18th.