All of these phrases could be used to describe Shippensburg offensive and defensive tackle Cary Hess. The 270-pound senior towers at 6-foot-4, making him one of the biggest and most-feared Greyhounds.
Hess has been playing football since he was a kid, and this year, he capped off his high school career with a dominating senior season.
"We had incredibly high expectations for him, especially with the offseason he's had," Shippensburg offensive line coach Chris Debias said. "He's improved every year since he's been a freshman, and the expectations we had for him sort of snowballed into the expectations we had for the team because he was one of the guys that got us going this year."
Hess helped lead the Greyhounds to a 9-1 regular season finish, the team's first Mid Penn Colonial Division title and No. 7 seed heading into the district playoffs, which begin Friday.
"I wanted to good for myself, but more for the team," Hess said. "I wanted to improve the team more than I wanted to improve myself. I'm always looking toward the team. If my stats are all right, it doesn't matter. As long as the team is doing good, I know I'm doing good."
This team-first mentality is just one of the reasons Hess was named a co-captain for the 2012 season.
"I just try to lead by example," Hess said. "I try to work hard in the classroom and work hard out in the field and be the best I can be. Hopefully, the younger kids will follow my example and be the best that they can be."
Not only is Hess a leader off the field, but Ship coach Eric Foust said one of his biggest strengths on the football field is his ability to lead in game situations.
"He's a good leader of our line," Foust said. "He does a nice job keeping his head. And really, his tenacity - he drives people. He gets into people, and he does a nice job of that.
Debias has been working closely with Hess since his freshman year, and he said that in addition to Hess's play, his leadership skills have also greatly improved over the years.
"He was more quiet and reserved as a sophomore, then he really started to come into himself more as a junior," Debias said. "As the team needed him, he adapted to that very well and became someone that could be a voice for his teammates and someone that coaches could trust to relay messages or get points across and be the example that we needed on the field."
Moving forward, Hess wants to continue his football career at the collegiate level, and he should have no problem doing so. He already has offers from Bucknell, Colgate, Youngstown State, Monmouth and the University of Pennsylvania. He is also hoping to hear from Kent State, Penn State, the University of Maryland and Lehigh.
"Cary's a Division I football player; he's worked hard to get there," Foust said. "He's done everything he needed to do. We expected him to have a very good season (this year), and he has."
Hess's willingness to work - and work hard - is one that is rarely matched at the high school level, according to Debias.
During the summer, Ship held two weight lifting sessions every day, and Hess was one of the few who was always at both sessions. He also attended various camps and combines at different universities.
"It's really important for people to know his dedication to the sport and to his team," Debias said. "It's really incredible because especially when you're that age, everybody has something to do. But he's always managed to find his way into the school to work with us. That's not something you see all the time."
Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.