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Shippensburg's Houser shines as rookie back

SHIPPENSBURG -- Most freshmen football players aren't on the field on Friday nights.

Most of them have to work their way up, playing on a ninth-grade or junior varsity squad before moving up to the big time.

But Adam Houser isn't just any freshman.

Houser, a 5-foot-9, 150-pound running back and safety, has played every game for Shippensburg, and since about midway through the season, he has been starting on both sides of the ball. This week, he and the Greyhounds (7-3) will travel to Solanco (9-1) for the first round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.

"If you would've told me last season that I'd be up here, first week of the playoffs, playing with the team, I wouldn't believe you," Houser said. "It's crazy to be up here."

Houser has proven that he belongs, though. Each week, the Hounds have called his number more and more, and he's always responded.

"As the year went on, he's been able to do more and more for us," Shippensburg coach Eric Foust said. "Early in the year, he wasn't starting defensively for us. He was playing some offensively in packages, but not whole games. Now we've just given him more and more to do each week."

This season, Houser has gained 146 yards on 31 carries, and he also has brought down 13 catches for 135 yards. He has a receiving and a rushing touchdown, and has also done some work on special teams. He returned the opening kickoff against Big Spring 90 yards for a touchdown, giving the Greyhounds a jump start to a big victory.

Other Hounds are even noticing his progression.

"He's been awesome," Ship senior Wade Mills said. "It's crazy, too, because he's a freshman. I know my freshman year, I was scared to death. I would've never wanted to get into a varsity game because everyone was so big. But (Adam) is so good. He takes hits. He's not scared, and he really gets the job done."

Houser has become more and more physical as the season has gone on, but Foust looks at another area as his biggest strength.

"It's really his mentality and the way he looks at the game," Foust said. "It wasn't whether he was physically good enough. There are a lot of (freshmen) that could be physically good enough, but it was more mentally, his approach to the game made it seem like (playing as a freshman) was something he could do."