Shawsheen's Ryan Dusablon works against Northeast's Anthony Tinkham

Shawsheen's Ryan Dusablon works against Northeast's Anthony Tinkham. (photo by JoeBrownphotos.com).

BILLERICA – If you had asked Shawsheen Tech senior linebacker Ryan Dusablon two years ago where he pictured his future role with the Shawsheen Tech Football team, it is doubtful he would have seen himself in the role he currently holds with the Rams.

First of all, as a player who rarely saw the field as a sophomore it is doubtful that he would have seen himself as a defensive force for the Rams, as well as one of their five senior captains. And even if he had the temerity to convince himself of that, there is certainly no way that the former backup fullback could have envisioned becoming one of the key cogs in the Rams offensive success, not from the backfield, but from the offensive line where he is a starting tackle for this year’s Rams as they prepare for their Thanksgiving Day clash with Arlington Catholic on Thursday.

Nevertheless, that is where the Wilmington native is. The former backup is now one of the unquestioned leaders of the Rams. Not only has he done a remarkable job of transitioning from the backfield to the offensive line, but he has also turned himself into possibly the Rams best defensive player, leading the team in tackles with 72 on the season.

Shawsheen coach Al Costabile has certainly been impressed with the player that Dusablon has become, and he knows that he has earned all of the accolades that are now coming his way.

“Duce has been very consistent. He is somebody who leads by example. I think his tackling total shows the consistency he has had all year. He shows up to play every day. He is a quiet leader, but he has been a great captain. He’s had some real good moments for us,” Costabile said. “He has made very consistent improvement over the years. Week in and week out he has been getting better. He is here every day, and that is why he has improved.

“He is a hard worker, and if you have somebody who is here every day and works hard, and is not just standing around, and are willing to take on different challenges if the team needs them, those are the guys who get better.”

For Dusablon, this senior year, with all of its ups and downs as the Rams have fought their way to a 5-5 record heading into Thursday’s game, has been a tremendous experience. And while he has certainly enjoyed his individual success, the biggest thing for him has been being around his teammates for what has been a very rewarding season.

“Obviously we have a very young team. There are only a handful of us seniors playing and only a handful of us on the team in general, but we stick together. It is a really good team effort all around,” Dusablon said. “We have had some ups and downs with injuries, especially, but we have always stuck together. Family first has been a big thing for us.”

The Rams are indeed a very young team, with only ten seniors on the entire roster, but Dusablon has enjoyed his role as one of the team captains as they have tried to guide the young squad through a very strange season that has included having a pair of games canceled due to no fault of their own. Most recently the season has included a two game losing streak, sandwiched around a win by forfeit for the Rams, but that has not stopped Dusablon from trying to do his best to lead the Rams.

“Our role as captains has been to keep the young kids motivated. If we are down big in a game, it is important to keep the kids motivated and believing that we can still win,” Dusablon said. “The past couple of games it has not gone as well, but it usually has seemed to work for us.”

One thing that has definitely worked out for Dusablon has been his play on the defensive side of the ball, where in addition to his team high 72 tackles, he has also earned a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a quarterback sack on the season.

“Defensively, every game has been a learning experience. I didn’t play much last year, but this year I am finally getting to start and I have progressed every game,” Dusablon said. “Every game has just been a learning experience right to this day. Defensively as a team, the number one thing has been to stick together as a team. We can give up a big play, but we tell each other, come on. Let’s stick together and get the next one. Stop the two-point conversion or whatever. That can be huge.”

Dusablon only began playing football in his freshman year at Shawsheen, but he already had plenty of experience playing defense in another sport. A defenseman for the Shawsheen Hockey team, Dusablon has been playing hockey for as long as he can remember. That experience, while in a different sport, has been invaluable to Dusablon in his development as a football player.

“Hockey is a very team oriented sport, so that helps a lot, but really the biggest way that hockey helped me is that playing defense in hockey is very similar to football,” Dusablon said. “For example, when you are breaking down to tackle someone, it is always about looking at their chest. It is the exact same in hockey. When you are defending someone one on one, you are always looking at their chest. That is just one example of how hockey has helped me, but there are multiple ways it has helped.”

If every day playing defense has been a learning experience for Dusablon, then playing offensive line has been even more so. Normally fullbacks, both he and fellow captain Shane Costello of Wilmington made the switch to offensive line this season. While the transition was not an easy one, Costabile says that Dusablon has done an excellent job in his new position.

“He’s done very well with it. He unselfishly made a move that he thought, and we thought as coaches, would help the team. He never once complained,” Costabile said. “At first, he was learning everything different than he has ever done before, and he has consistently improved. I think he wishes he had another year on the offensive line with the experience he has garnered and the way he has responded to it. He is undersized as far as weight, but he battles.”

Dusablon acknowledges the size disparity he faces against nearly every opponent. And while, like most players, he prefers making tackles on defense to making blocks on the offensive line, he has grown to enjoy that role as well.

“It was definitely a different experience at first, especially with Shane and I not exactly being offensive lineman sized kids,” Dusablon said. “But we use our speed to our advantage and that has been our biggest advantage on the offensive line, because a lot of the time, the kids we are going up against have a 50- or 100-pound advantage on us, so if we get off the ball quick, most of the time we can push them around a little bit.”

Dusablon and the Rams will be looking to push around some Arlington Catholic players come Thursday morning, as he hopes to lead his team to not only a Thanksgiving Day win, but also to a winning record for the season.

“You can’t even imagine how excited we are. My sophomore year we had a very competitive game with Arlington Catholic, which is the kind of game I like. I didn’t get to play in that game, but just watching it, I know what it is going to be like,” Dusablon said. “Especially as seniors, for most of us it is our last football game ever, so to say we are going to give one hundred percent is an understatement.”

Dusablon credits much of his consistent improvement on the football field to Costabile, who has been a constant source of motivation throughout his career.

“I don’t even have words for it. I mean, every practice he has the same attitude, always motivating us,” Dusablon said of what is has been like to play for Costabile. “His biggest saying is ‘It’s a great day for football,’ and it doesn’t matter if it is raining or sunny or snowing. That is how he always feels. He keeps us all motivated. He has been great.”

Beyond Costabile, Dusablon credits his family especially his parents Bill and Janine for his success in both hockey and football, as well as lacrosse where he is also a defender for the Rams. Many of his family members will of course be in attendance on Thursday morning and Dusablon couldn’t be happier.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family. My parents have been driving me every place for hockey since I was five years old, and have always been there for me,” Dusablon said. “With football, it has been tough for them, since they both work, and still had to figure out a way to pick us up through freshman and sophomore year. When you have family at your game, it is some extra motivation for you especially if you are struggling.”

Come Thanksgiving morning Dusablon will be sharing some special moments not only with his family, but also with his Shawsheen football family. He anticipates it being a very special day for he and his teammates.

“I am sure, no matter the score of the game, it is going to be very emotional, and I will be giving some nice, big hugs at the end,” Dusablon said. “I will still see kids at school and some at hockey, but it will be my last time playing football with them so it will be very emotional.”

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