It may not have been Doug Anderwkavichs last game as a tight end, but, according to his high school coach, it may have been one of them.
Anderwkavich, a Bayside resident who played high school football for Holy Cross and most recently the New York City team in the fifth annual Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge, is taking his game to the Division I-A ranks in September with the University of Buffalo, where his career as a tight end may not be too long, said Holy Cross head coach Tom Pugh.
Hell develop into an offensive lineman, said Pugh of the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Anderwkavich. Hes not a burner, he knows that. Hes a strong blocker with quick feet.
According to Pugh, who played college football at Emporia State, most players of Anderwkavichs considerable size are converted from receivers to linemen once they reach the Division I or professional level.
Tight ends, Pugh said, more closely resemble wide receivers these days, something Anderwkavich certainly is not. With speed in the 4.8 range for the 40-yard dash numbers that line up with many linemen on the elite levels, it is only a matter of time before he settles into the role of lineman.
A kid like Doug can make the transition, Pugh said. More than half of the major programs that recruited him had him as a tackle.
Buffalo is one of the few Division I-A schools that recruited Anderwkavich as a receiver, which is why the hulking 18-year-old chose the upstate school.
And watching Anderwkavich in the Empire Challenge, an all-star football game pitting the best high school seniors from New York City and Long Island against one another, held July 3, at Hofstra University, it was easy to see why.
Anderwkavich was solid up front in a blocking capacity, but also made one notable grab, on a short pass from quarterback Desmond Maxwell on a two-point conversion attempt that tied the game at 14-14 in the final minute of the second quarter.
New York City lost the game, 21-14.
It was a perfect fit for me, Anderwkavich said of his choosing Buffalo. It was a place I can see myself for the next four years. Hopefully when I get there theyll use their tight ends.
Despite being one of the Catholic High School Football League premier tight ends, Anderwkavich never found his niche his senior year. After a stellar junior campaign working with then-quarterback Michael Braunstein, the 2001 Holy Cross Knights never developed a passing attack that featured Anderwkavich.
Last year he didnt get the ball as much, said Pugh of Anderwkavich, who also saw time on the defensive side of the ball during his senior season. He did whatever he had to do to help.
But without a solid passing attack and Anderwkavich able to contribute on offense, the team suffered, missing out on the elite AAA playoffs and losing the AA title game.
We didnt really come together as a team the way we could have, Anderwkavich said. It was disappointing. You dont want to go out that way.
So he didnt. Becoming a part of the New York City team was a revelation for Anderwkavich, who praised his new teammates just days before they took the field together to take on the Long Island All-Stars.
Ive never been on a team with so much talent, said Anderwkavich, who began his football career playing for the College Point Athletic Club before attending Holy Cross. This is a lot of fun. This is a great opportunity for everyone to show off their talent and finish off their high school careers.
Anderwkavich came to Pughs attention early on in his high school career, the coach said. The budding talent was just too hard to miss.
Hes not somebody you didnt notice, Pugh said. He was very big. But hes a great kid, very quiet, intelligent, shy for a big guy, very coachable.
In addition to his contribution to the New York City team at the Empire Challenge, Anderwkavich also will take part in the fifth annual Governors Bowl, along with Holy Cross teammate Woody Aime, to be held Saturday at Columbia University.
It will give him at least one more game at tight end and the chance to finish his high school career on a high note.
Im looking forward to it, Anderwkavich said. New York is getting up there now.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2002 Community News Group
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