CHATHAM, NJ - It's hard to imagine a 6-0, 240-pound football player as being "invisible." That adjective might not be far off when tracking the football exploits of Chatham's Chris DeSante.
Most Chatham football followers have heard of quarterback Alex Sands, running backs Justin Hayes and Matt Nestler, and receivers like Chris Bredahl, Ryan Barnett, Brian Brady, Timmy Adams and Robbie Moskowitz. But few can tick off the linemen who open the holes and protect the skill position players.
"There aren't a lot of statistics that can be cited," Chatham football coach Jason Izsa said. "Chris is a two-way starter who rarely came out of the game. We had a great year running and passing the ball and he was a solid piece of the offensive line that made that happen."
Chatham played one of its most dominating games on both sides of the football in its final contest Saturday, a 36-7 victory over Cliffisde Park. As a two-way tackle, DeSante closed out his Chatham career with one of his best performances.
Chris DeSante is the TAP Chatham Athlete of the Week.
"I represent all the beef on the team," DeSante said. "Our coaches know that the lineman don't get too much of the appreciation. If a running back rushes for 200 yards, his name gets in the paper. Maybe, if we're lucky, our picture might be in there. Our coaches know how important we are to the team. Alex Sands is really good about it. Whenever we go a game where he doesn't get sacked, he takes out the team for milkshakes. We got the milkshakes once or twice this year. Sands and the running backs appreciate us."
DeSante is part of a small group of seniors who made it through four years of high school football. A number of players dropped football after eighth grade and more the next year when DeSante was a freshman.
"We're the survivors," DeSante said. "The seniors have been through a lot together. I think there were 11 of us and we lost two to injury. It kind of set the tone for the team that we don't have big numbers. We have to be fighters and scrappers. We can't rely on numbers, only hard work."
DeSante was recently named a Boy Scout Scholar Athlete. The tackle gained the rank of Eagle Scout by performing hours of community service in repairing trails and benches at Southern Boulevard School. He also is an Honor Roll student.
"Looking back on it, I think I should have voted for him for captain," Brady said. "He's a team leader who always goes 110 percent. He's a great all-around kid. You can tell he really cares. He was actually playing hurt with his knee for a while. He wore a brace in school and just went for it. He's a tough kid who always battles."
DeSante is a field performer in track, throwing the shot put and javelin in the indoor season and outdoor in the spring. But football is what he'll remember most from his high school days.
"It's been one of my favorite experiences of high school, probably my favorite life experience so far," DeSante said. "You're playing one of the most fun sports with kids you've known for 12 years. It's a big team sport. You're fighting day after day with these kids. I've gotten close to a lot of guys who I'll probably be friends with for the rest of my life."
Chatham entered the season with a losing streak that stretched to 23 in a row before it was broken with a road victory over High Point.
"Winning that game was probably the best feeling I've had in a long time," DeSante said. "We came up a game short of making the playoffs and I think next year's team definitely has the talent to make the playoffs and have a good run."