BY JEFF FALK
‘Dresch’ is German in origin and is the occupational name for a thresher – one who threshes or beats with. At Northern Lebanon High School, it just means football.
For the better part of the past 30 years, the surname ‘Dresch’ has been synonymous with Viking football. During that span there have been no less than nine – count ’em 9 – Dresches who have donned the Royal Blue & Old Gold and horned helmets.
Tanner Dresch, Northern Lebanon’s current and senior quarterback, is the last of the Dresch lineage. He is accutely aware of his ancestorial history in Fredericksburg and what it means to be a ‘Dresch’.
“We all played football,” said Tanner Dresch. “We can talk about football stuff. But we’re not over the top about football. We can talk about other things as well. My dad told me, ‘Do what you enjoy.’ No one pushed me into playing football.”
Tanner’s dad is Heath Drecsh, a former linebacker and running back for Northern Lebanon in the mid 1980s. Heath has two older brothers, Charles ‘Chic’ and Doug, and two younger brothers, Todd and Steve, who played in the backfield for Northern Lebanon’s Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship team in 1987.
Tanner has three former football-playing cousins Justin, Doug, Jr. and Travis, who starred for the Vikings as a running back a couple of seasons back. The patriarch of the Dresch clan is Charles, Sr., who played football in the coal regions in his day, before migrating to Fredericksburg.
Through the decades, the Dresches have gained the reputation as being good, tough, versatile players, who always placed team goals ahead of personal accomplishments.
"My uncle Steve played quarterback and he got pushed into starting, just like me," said Tanner. "It was a similar situation to mine. I played quarterback the whole way up. When I was a sophomore I was going to be the back-up to a senior, and he got hurt and I went in. And I've been in there ever since.
"I looked at that year like I could learn from the senior," Tanner added. "He got hurt and everything went well."
Over the years, Tanner has been entertained by stories of the football exploits of his father and uncles, told mostly by his grandfather. He was afforded the opportunity to watch his cousins play from the stands.
"Travis and Doug played when I was in middle school and I remember watching all of those games," said Tanner. "The thing that stuck with me the most was my cousin Travis' work ethic. He took me under his wing in the weight room and sort of showed me the ropes.
"Travis had a lot of success with football," Tanner continued. "Everyone expects you to be like him. Even my other cousins were good players. But they were also expected to be good students, behave, do what you're supposed to do and follow the rules."
Tanner was eight years old when he first started playing pee wee football in the Vikings' feeder program.
"I don't really remember too much about it," said Tanner. "My dad probably told me to try it and that if I liked it to keep going. Our midget program at Northern Lebanon was good, and the coaches were great.
"I didn't hear the (old football) stories so much from my dad and uncle," added Tanner. "But my grandpa told me about their playing days. One of the guys who saw both of us play told me that I run like my dad."
Another person who can attest to the Dresches' prowess on the gridiron is Carl Fischl, the Vikings' all-time winningest football coach. Fischl coached the older Dresches on the varsity level, before moving down to the junior high, where he helped develop the younger ones.
"The only guy who was around my dad and my four uncles was Coach Fischl," said Tanner. "Then in the 90s he went to the junior high. I remember one story he told me about my Uncle Todd. He (Fischl) said he (Todd) never made mistakes, but one game he made a mistake. Coach Fischl would tell me that story once a week. I'm not sure what the point of the story was, but he liked telling stories."
While Tanner said he was never pushed into playing football, once he made up his mind to, he had the full support of the Dresches behind him.
"My grandpa is the biggest one to come and watch me play, besides my dad," said Tanner. "My uncles don't come to see me all the time, but they come from time-to-time. They really don't give me too much advice because I don't think they want to step on anyone's toes and tell me things opposite of what other people have.
"My grandpa has been going to games for 38 years," Tanner continued, "watching his kids and grandchildren play. So he hasn't had much of a break over the years."