WAVERLY — If you take a deep dive into what it takes to build a successful football program, one of the first things you will see is a strong weight lifting program.

Waverly head coach Jason Miller is definitely a believer in using the weight room to develop student-athletes — and one of his current standout players is an example of that.

Junior running back/linebacker David Hallett has put in the work in the Wolverines’ weight room — and it has paid off this season.

“I figured out that having more muscle and being a little bit bigger helped with what I wanted to do, so I hit the weight room in the winter,” said Hallett.

That extra work with the weights has allowed him to stay fresh throughout the game, according to Hallett.

“(It helps) so, so much. In games, I’ve noticed this year from last year, third quarter and fourth quarter I feel way better than I did,” said Hallett, who has rushed for 298 yards and four scores this season. “I’m not that tired. Just having that little burst of energy where in years before I didn’t have (that).”

Miller called Hallett a leader of a group of players who have put in the time in the weight room.

“He’s not the only one. He’s the one that kind of stands out. He’s really dedicated to it, but we do have a core (group) of kids who work very hard, and I would say he’s the leader of that group,” Miller said.

The longtime head coach believes the Wolverines’ lifting program has helped them this season as they battle teams in rugged Section IV Class B.

“I just believe that this year is evidence of that. Obviously, our record’s not great, but we’re able to compete at a higher level, and stand up to guys that are quite honestly a lot bigger than us physically and compete every week,” said Miller.

While some programs will drop their lifting program during the season, the Wolverines continue to hit the weights during the fall.

“I think it’s had a huge impact on our health as far as staying strong throughout the year. We are still in the weight room twice a week as part of our practice Mondays and Tuesdays,” said Miller. “I don’t think a lot of teams do that, and I think a lot of teams, from my own experience, lose a significant amount of strength over the course of 2 1/2 months. We, at the very least, maintain what we’ve gained from last November and Decemer. We feel it’s a big asset.”

Despite the Wolverines’ 2-3 start to the season, Hallett is confident that this team has what it takes to play with anyone on its schedule.

“We don’t give up and we play as a team ... I believe we can beat anybody in our division,” said Hallett, who has racked up 55 tackles, including 18 solo, so far this year. “(We are taking it) game by game, week by week and see if we can do something.”

Miller has seen Hallett’s leadership transition from the weight room to the football field.

“David’s a vocal leader. He brings an element of toughness and he has experience. I mean you’re talking a three-year starter as a junior, and he’s learned a lot in the last three years about the game itself. (He) has experienced the trials and tribulations of winning and losing and tragedy and what it means to be part of a football team,” said Miller.

Hallett’s experience and talent makes him the perfect leader for this group of Wolverines for the this year and next season, according to Miller.

“He’s really become a really good leader on and off the field and you need that. If you’re going to have a good team you’ve got to have somebody who is kind of leading the charge and right now he’s our guy,” Miller said.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or editor@morning-times.com. Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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