It took a lot of hard work, determination, and a stick-to-it attitude, but Anthony Bourassa finally made it.

Cocalico’s busy senior is having a successful football season for the Eagles. But it was what he accomplished off the field that puts a big smile on his face and makes him most proud.

Bourassa, the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s leading rusher heading into Friday’s games, recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts of America.

Only four percent of Boy Scouts, dating back to 1911, earn Eagle Scout status. Bourassa is in that prestigious group. He got started in Cub Scouts back in first grade, and when he completed his final project this past summer, he was elated to join the club.

“It means a lot,” Bourassa said. “It was a big moment to become an Eagle Scout. It made me really happy. I thank my parents for helping me out because it was a struggle. It was a long process, with a lot of requirements and stages, and I wanted to give up a few times. But I’d come too far; there was no turning back, and I stuck with it.”

For Bourassa’s final project, he crafted three benches for the Peace United Church of Christ in Denver, where he meets with Troop 4318. He completed many other projects, attended camps across the country and earned plenty of badges and patches along his journey.

Bourassa’s classmate and Eagles’ teammate, Alex Stokrp, also earned Eagle Scout honors; their ceremony was in September.

“Big props to Alex,” Bourassa said. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”

As for his on-field abilities — which are plentiful — Bourassa has bolted to the top of the league’s rushing chart this season with 1,395 yards and 19 touchdown runs, and like his pursuit for Eagle Scout, he’s had to put in some extra work.

In Bourassa’s varsity debut in his sophomore season, in the first game in 2019 against Conrad Weiser, he popped a 32-yard touchdown run on his very first carry. But two weeks later, in a JV game against Governor Mifflin, he broke his ankle and missed the rest of the season.

“I landed weird, and I heard it crack,” Bourassa said. “I knew right away it was broken. I was pretty upset. But I knew I had two more years ahead of me, and I had to push through it and be ready for the next year.”

Bourassa rehabbed his ankle — while finishing off his push to become an Eagle Scout — and he was back in the lineup last fall, rushing for 752 yards and eight touchdowns.

Here’s the attention-grabbing football factoid about Bourassa: He’s 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds — soaking wet — yet he plays the grueling fullback position in Cocalico’s Veer scheme. That means a lot of running between the tackles and taking a lot of shots and punishment in the trenches.

“To be a fullback in our system, you better be tough because you’re getting hit on pretty much every play,” Cocalico coach Bryan Strohl said. “We’ve had speed kids. We’ve had tough kids. Anthony is a combination of both.”

He can slog it out for a short gain to move the sticks. And he also can flash some serious breakaway speed; Bourassa has five touchdown runs of 70 or more yards this season, and he averages more than eight yards per carry.

“Anthony has that extra something with his vision, and he can kick it into a higher gear,” Strohl said. “It’s nice when you have a fullback who can fall forward and get you a few yards. But he adds another dimension because he has so much speed. He’s not only tough, but he can breakaway, too.”

Bourassa also has a bullish offensive line to run behind, with stalwarts like center Jared Stauffer, tackles Chuckie Drain and Damien Wolf, guards Chase Tucker and Ryan Brubaker — the D1 South Carolina commit — plus Trystan Moore and Hunter Corley rotating in, all helping to pave the way.

“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without those guys,” Bourassa said. “I’m like a kid in a candy shop. If I’m getting those big holes, I should be producing.”

“If our fullback is hot, that’s usually a good sign,” Stauffer said. “That means we’re probably winning.”

Cocalico (3-0 league, 5-3 overall) heads into Friday’s home Section Two date against Warwick (2-0, 4-3) tied for first place in the loss column with the Warriors. The Eagles have also ridden Bourassa’s sturdy legs to the cusp of a playoff spot.

“He’s been really hot,” Stauffer said. “He’s been unstoppable. When you’re blocking for a kid like that, you want to give it your all, because you know he’s giving it his all for us when he’s running. You want to block your hardest for a kid like that.”

A kid with the drive and the work ethic to put in the time and reach the pinnacle of Boy Scouts. A kid with the determination and patience to finish the job and become an Eagle Scout. And a kid who uses all those same attributes on the football field to be the best running back he can be.

TWITTER: @JeffReinhart77

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