PREP FOOTBALL

Canty prepped to play any role on lunch bucket team

2013-06-27T17:00:00Z 2014-08-28T17:05:14Z Canty prepped to play any role on lunch bucket teamPhil Arvia Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 27, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

His given name, Raphael, would seem fitting for this football Renaissance man.

T.F. South's Raphael Canty prefers to go by "Ralph," which has a lunch-bucket ring to it that, in its own way, is equally appropriate.

Or maybe a two-way player just needs two names.

"Last year, he played linebacker, defensive end, offensive tackle and tight end for us," Rebels coach Tom Padjen said. "Wherever we need him, he plays. He works extremely hard."

Perhaps that's why Canty was so quick to smile last week at the Richards 7-on-7 Passing Camp. Working only at linebacker for the day, it must have seemed like a day off.

Or, a glimpse of the future.

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior was a Times all-area pick and all-South Suburban Blue linebacker as a junior in 2012, when he had 60 solo tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. He's being courted by Ball State, Indiana State, Bowling Green, and Western and Eastern Michigan, among others. Most of those mid-majors see him as a defensive lineman.

"I just want to play defense — I like to hit," Canty said. "On the college level, I'll be looking forward to it."

If only for the rest.

"Yes, I do get tired," he said, "but after all these years of doing it, I've gotten used to it."

Canty became a two-way varsity player as a sophomore, when the Rebels endured a 4-5 season — one of Padjen's three losing years in the last 22. They bounced back to beat perennial conference champs Lemont last season, share the conference title with the Indians and Oak Forest, and go 7-3.

Canty expects 2013 to be another in the win column — though he knows the Rebels have some important cogs to replace.

"Our offensive line has a lot of spaces to fill," he said. "We lost a lot of our starting backs — quarterback, running back, fullback.

"But we're coming back with some similar people who can do the same kinds of things. We have a lot of speed, a lot of new talent."

Then there's Canty's favored side of the ball.

"Most of the defense was juniors last year," he said. "Our defense is going to show up all the time.

"We're going to stop the run and make you try to beat us with the pass. And we're going to make you throw the hardest pass possible."

Canty and his fellow linebacker Jariel Brooks are the leading returning tacklers and, stationed side-by-side in the middle of the defense, simply the leaders. Fortunately, Canty said, there are willing followers all over the roster.

"The juniors, they're not big-headed," he said. "They listen to the seniors."

Everyone, it seems, listens to Canty.

"He's got great character," Padjen said. "He's a steadying influence for the rest of his teammates."

It helps that Canty is a steady contributor on the field.

"Some people have the natural ability to find the football wherever you put them on the field," Padjen said. "Ralph is one of those people."

Canty is also one of those people who has taken his gifts and honed them.

"He has a combination of strength, speed and football sense," Padjen said. "But his work ethic — his work ethic is tremendous."

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