Offense is the first thought that comes to mind whenever Kevin Ganascioli's name is mentioned.
After all, the Glenelg senior tied a state football record by scoring six touchdowns in a game last season.
And the former Gladiators quarterback rushed for 1,036 yards on just 91 carries -11.4 yards a carry - to earn first-team All-County honors as a running back.
But this season, in addition to a fine offensive effort at running back, Ganascioli, who also plays strong safety, is leading Glenelg in tackles. He's made 42 solo tackles and has 15 assists for the 8-0, No. 7-ranked Gladiators, allowing 10 points a game.
"I like defense - anything it takes, as long as we win," said Ganascioli, who at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds can lay a lick on an opposing player that often lingers. He also has two sacks, one fumble recovery, five pass break-ups, a blocked punt and a blocked extra point.
With his interest centered on Towson, Richmond and William and Mary, he hopes to play football in college, and his likely position there will be in the defensive secondary.
"Kevin had great defensive games against Howard, Hammond and Oakland Mills," said coach John Davis. "He helped us get a win in the second half against St. Mary's, and [he] played well defensively and scored the winning touchdown against Long Reach. The bigger the game, the more he steps up."
Ganascioli, selected to the Super 22 team of the area's best 44 juniors by the Baltimore Touchdown Club and a second-team All-State pick last season, has rushed 117 times for 847 yards and seven touchdowns. His average is 7.24 yards a carry. He had an 85-yard run against Centennial.
"He's deceptively fast. He'll make you miss with his quickness and then run away from you," said Davis. "He sees the field well and has a sixth sense for what will happen. He understands the flow of the game - when to turn it up and when to rest. Offensively, other teams have tried to take him away. As soon as he twitches, people are there."
By keying on Ganascioli, teams are vulnerable to the rushing of speedy junior Tim Siders, who has 845 yards and 11 touchdowns on 84 carries.
Ganascioli, who also plays basketball and baseball for Glenelg, has a lot of versatility. The former Mount Airy Bulldogs youth league player has caught three passes for 74 yards. He also plays on special teams and holds for extra points. Last season, he had a 99-yard kickoff return against Mount Hebron.
No wonder he's a tri-captain - Glenelg's most vocal captain.
"Each captain has his own niche, and I'm sort of the on-the-field captain," he said.
He is one player the Gladiators can least afford to lose. He was injured in the next-to-last game last season. The Gladiators lost their first playoff game to Middletown. "He was only about 80 percent against Middletown, and that hurt us," said Davis. "I think we would have won if he had been healthy."
Ganascioli's three varsity seasons have been the best back-to-back performances in the school's history, with the Gladiators posting a 26-5 record during that time, including 22 straight league victories.
"Our strength has been, and still is, our offensive line," said Ganascioli. "It's a little undersized this season, but it is strong and very quick. The biggest difference this year is that we are more confident. We play to win instead of playing not to lose. Other people make a big deal of it, but our streak is the last thing we focus on. It's been a great season so far, and we're just hoping it continues."