Every time Archbishop Curley’s Nik D’Avanzo went to the bench in Friday’s football game, he really needed that rest.
Friars coach Sean Murphy called the 6-foot-3, 275-pound D’Avanzo “a one-man show” for his exceptional performance on both sides of the ball in No. 14 Curley’s 18-13 season-opening win over Patterson at the I-95 Kickoff Classic.
A senior defensive end committed to Temple, D’Avanzo had 14 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked punt and he also recovered a fumble, but that was only half the story. Doubling as a wing back, he scored the game-winning touchdown and had seven carries for 66 yards.
“I didn’t get off the field much,” D’Avanzo said with a laugh, “but when I did, I was completely dead.”
D’Avanzo made big plays to set up each of Curley’s three touchdowns. First, he laid out for a one-handed grab on third-and-long for a 16-yard gain. He thought he reached the end zone, but the officials called him down on the 3. Kenny Thomas took it in from there.
D’Avanzo’s sack and forced fumble set up the second Curley touchdown, which Nick Farmer converted from the 2-yard line. The blocked punt eventually led to D’Avanzo’s 3-yard run for the game-winning touchdown with two minutes left.
His favorite play of the game came after the blocked punt but before the short scoring run.
“I was running the ball to the left,” D’Avanzo said. “It was the second-to-last play before I scored and I carried like four people for 12 yards and I finally lost them for eight [more] yards.”
Murphy said, "How many times do you see a kid this big playing back? He's usually a center or a tackle. I've never had a kid this big playing back. He had some runs where he carried half their team with him."
One of the keys to the season for the Friars, who are expected to contend in the MIAA B Conference, is keeping D’Avanzo healthy.
“He’s our go-to guy in a tough situation,” Murphy said. “With him, we’re a pretty good team. Without him, we’re an average team.
“He’s talented for his size playing both ways. He’s a big leader. We rely on him. He’s not a real vocal leader, but when he raises his voice, people listen. The kids look up to him and Nik goes 100 percent every single practice, every single drill. He’s a good role model for the kids."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times