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November 03, 1989 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-11-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SPORTS

These two prep
linemen are
excelling in
football's
toughest arena.

Rycus achieved a lineman's
fantasy.

MIKE ROSENBAUM

Special to The Jewish News

W

hen fans watch a
football game, most
follow the ballcar-
rier. Few pay atten-
tion to the people
who clear the paths for the
runners and protect them —
or who, on the opposite side of
the line, try to stop them.
But ask coaches where
ganies are won or lost and
most will point to those same
offensive and defensive lines
— the "trenches," in football
parlance.
A pair of Michigan high
school linemen enjoying
strong senior years this
season are Gershon Askenazy
of Berkley High, 6-foot-1 and
215 pounds, and Jeremy
Rycus of East Lansing,
6-foot-1 and 210 pounds. Both
play offense and defense, both
are team captains and both
should get the opportunity to
play collegiate football.
Not only that, but both also
began playing the sport as
youngsters, Rycus in a fifth-
grade recreational league;
Askenazy in the sixth.

56

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1989

Askenazy prefers leading by example.

Askenazy has been playing
for school teams since seventh
grade, but Rycus's middle
school didn't offer the sport,
so he waited until high school
to resume.
Rycus's inspiration was
older brother Brett, who
quarterbacked at East Lans-
ing and whose enjoyment of
the game rubbed off on
Jeremy, four years his junior.
The younger Rycus wanted to
be a running back, but his
size as a freshman made him
a better bet for the trenches
and he learned to like the

position. "I liked the contact
— hitting people. It was fun,"
he says.
He played both offensive
and defensive tackle as a
freshman and junior varsity
sophomore. Last year, he
became the Trojans' only
junior to start all nine games,
earning second-team All-
Capital Area Conference
honors at defensive tackle.
This season, he starts at
defensive tackle and general-
ly alternates offensive series
at tackle or guard.
Askenazy also was a two-

way starter as a sophomore
on the JV squad, captaining
both years. Last season he
became a varsity starter and
this year he is starting at of-
fensive tackle and noseguard.
The Berkley senior is about
60 pounds lighter than he
was last year, due to an off-
season fitness program of
dieting, running, biking,
swimming and weightlifting.
He also dropped his 40-yard
dash time from 5.8 seconds
last year to 5.1 now.
"He's got good ' physical
strength," says the Bears'

first year head coach, Pat Fox.
"He has decent quickness for
a big guy. He delivers a good
blow."
Since linemen get little
publicity, Askenazy says they
get their rewards elsewhere.
"Most of our recognition
comes from teammates and
coaches," he says. "It's self-
gratification when you beat
your man. Maybe only your
coach and you know it."
Although lineman have no
regular statistics, Coach Fox
notes that. Askenazy and his
offensive linemates have been
a big help to running back
Jamal Driscoll, "a potential
1,000-yard back." Without a
strong offensive line, Fox says,
such an achievement is not
possible.
Rycus, who prefers defense
says sacking the quarterback
is the best part of line play.
"It feels great. All the players
crowd around you and the
crowd goes wild," he says.
Earlier this season, Rycus
achieved a lineman's fantasy
by intercepting a pass and
returning it 23 years for a
touchdown. "The quarter-
back was scrambling and he
was under a lot of pressure,"
Rycus says. "He just threw it
up and I saw the ball in the
air, went and grabbed it and
ran it in untouched." Rycus
also hit paydirt as a
sophomore, when he ran in a
blocked punt.
Askenazy has no TD's, but
has recovered numerous
fumbles, including two
against Troy this season. "If
you like playing the line, the
highlight of our game is mak-
ing a big block on offense or
a hard stick on 'DT he says.
"But recovering a fumble on
defense is real gratifying
because you know you've
caused a turnover and you get
your team the ball so they can
score."
Askenazy says Berkley has
had its share of successful
Jewish football players, in-
cluding Hank Weinman, a
friend of Askenazy's who is

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