BY BRIAN BASSETT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
HAVILAND - While the skill position players played a large part in Wayne Trace's success on the football field this season, much like any 9-1 team, the Raiders were only as good as their offensive line.
Fortunately, the Wayne Trace offensive and defensive lines were anchored by six-foot-five, 275-pound senior Ryan Kortokrax.
Kortokrax, who earned first team All-GMC honors on the offensive and defensive lines, played a large part for the team in many different facets - including offense, defense and special teams.
"(Ryan) has a really strange combination of size and great athletic ability. He's very fast for his size. He's done a lot of special teams stuff for us - punting and kicking off. For as big of a guy as he is, he's just a really nice, athletic kid," explained Wayne Trace coach Bill Speller.
Offensively, Kortokrax was part of a line that helped Raider players rush for 1,355 yards on 261 attempts this year. They also protected junior quarterback Colby Speice as he threw for 3,156 yards and 48 touchdowns.
"The whole offensive line really gelled together and played well together. So, a big key of our success is the offensive line. Without that time, Colby wouldn't be able to find receivers. A lot of things would break down, and those guys, including Ryan, gave him a lot of extra time," Speller said.
Kortokrax played tackle a season ago, but moved to guard when the team converted to the spread offense. Speller described that the decorated lineman took it in stride, however.
"Previously we were in the I-formation and using a power running game, and he was playing tackle for us because we had to have big, strong tackles to kind of handle double-team blocks... With the spread, we wanted to put the smaller, faster type kids at the tackles and the bigger, stronger kids inside.
"We put Ryan in at guard with the idea that he could also pull and do some athletic things for us."
Kortokrax's value on the field did not go unnoticed, and colleges began to come calling. He eventually decided on the University of Akron, where he will continue his college football career.
"The whole recruiting process pretty much started when (Akron) came and visited him one day at school. He was getting some attention from some other schools like Toledo, Bowling Green a little bit - Illinois came to visit," Speller recalled.
Eventually, Akron won out explained Speller. "He really liked Akron and the new coaching staff there."
It appears that Kortokrax will play on the offensive line at Akron, and is one of only a few offensive linemen in his recruiting class.
"Right now he is going to play offense, guard I think they said. There hasn't been a lot of lineman in his recruiting class so, hopefully, he can stick with this and have a nice career there," Speller said.
And with the type of person Kortokrax is, his coach doesn't doubt that he will succeed one bit.
"He's a really nice kid off the field. Funny to talk to and really laid back. He works hard in school. He'll do well," added Speller.