Christman works hard for success

Photo by Dave Boyd
Dane Christman was a Mr. Football finalist last season.

By Wes Holtsclaw
When last season ended, Dane Christman got in the weight room, as in previous years, with a mindset on improvement.
It was the kind of work the Cloudland football program has had from the all-state linebacker since he began play at the high school level -- and the same work that led him to a 1-A Mr. Football Lineman nomination last season.
"Dane is a good athlete that's made himself better," said Cloudland coach Mike Lunsford. "Over the time we've had him here, he's worked hard, improved and gotten a lot quicker and stronger."
"He's one of the most dedicated we've had in the weight room," he said. "He's fun and enjoyable to coach, and he's the type of kid you like them all to be."
Christman stood beside two Division 1 college players last season at the American General TSSAA Mr. Football award ceremony in Bruceton-Central's Patrick Willis, who's currently playing for Ole Miss, and Middle Tennessee State's Antoine Owens, formerly of Ezell-Harding.
Dane finished as the runner-up and it was much deserved after recording 153 tackles and 12 sacks, a step up from the 143 hits and nine quarterback takedowns that he had during his sophomore year.
"It was a big surprise," said Christman. "I never imagined I would get an honor like that, especially as a junior."
Entering tonight's game with Unaka, Christman is on pace for his best season to date. He has 93 tackles and 5.5 sacks through seven games with the Highlanders.
The senior has also gotten a few carries this season, scoring the 'Landers' first touchdown against Cosby. He has been a crucial asset as a blocking back.
It has been a goal for Christman to lead the team in the category that most linebackers are known for production.
"It's been kind of a goal to lead the team in tackles each year," Christman said. "My first year, it was by chance. The weight room has helped me a lot and I've put on a lot of weight."
"It just says he's improved each year and done a lot to make himself better," added Lunsford. "He reads the ball better and plays a little bit differently than in the past. I guess that's helped him some.
"We try to funnel them into him and the other kids do a good job to help him."
In a senior season filled with a lot of expectations, things have been different, after many of his former teammates graduated.
"(This season) feels a lot different without the team I've played with since flag. We all get along, most of the time anyways, and that's a big help on a team," Christman joked.
As with many of the Cloudland seniors, the state title appearance was Christman's fondest memory.
"It was the most fun year of football, and I hope this year will end up being the same," he said. "I enjoyed playing behind Keith Buchanan, but these boys have worked hard to be where he was."
Family support has been a big key to his play.
"My family is real supportive, they never miss a game," he said. "And my sister keeps a scrapbook, and my brother helps in the weight room."
The work that players such as Christman have put into high school football programs across the nation has inspired many future players in the communities.
It's something that the Cloudland football program has been known for and it's the work that could lead them to their main goal at the end of the season.
Said Christman: "We're just taking it one game at a time, and at every practice we're not just working for the game at the end of the week, but for the game at the end of the season, no matter which game it will be."