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Marietta adds lots of strength with signing of RH#039;s Lavender

PEDRO - Justin Lavender has a strong desire to play football and a strong will to succeed.

His strong body only helps matters.

Lavender, one of the stronger linemen the Rock Hill Redmen have produced, has signed to play football for the Marietta College Pioneers, members of the Ohio Athletic Conference.

The 6-foot, 240-pound Lavender was the 250-pound division state powerlifting runner-up. He bench presses 400 pounds, squats 635 and deadlifts 535.

A two-year starter at tackle including the 2003 Division IV state playoff qualifier team, Lavender was first team All-Ohio Valley Conference last season and a member of the Associated Press Southeast Ohio All-District first team. He was also named All-Ohio special mention.

Rock Hill head coach Todd Knipp said Lavender's hard work and strength will be the keys to his success.

"He turned himself into a good player. If he continues to develop, he'll be a good player in the OAC," Knipp said. "He'll be going against the best players on other high school teams. If he can adjust early, he'll be fine."

Although Lavender was a two-way tackle for Rock Hill, he is expected to shift to center with Marietta.

"It'll probably be easier for me than playing tackle," Lavender said, referring to the larger-sized players at tackle.

While playing center might be easier for Lavender than playing tackle, but he knows it will still be a difficult task.

"It'll be more fast-paced and more intense. I've got to work out and be ready," Lavender said. "I just want to work my way up (the depth chart), get some playing time and finish my education."

The Pioneers finished 6-4 overall, 5-4 in the OAC, to place fifth in League play last year. Marietta will return 28 letter winners and 13 seniors this season.

Marietta was selected to finish sixth overall in the media and coaches polls.

Besides football, Lavender was a two-year starter in baseball and earned honorable mention and first team all-league honors.

Justin is the son of Randy and Karla Lavender of 134 Township Road, Ironton. He plans to major in sports medicine.