Thursday August 30, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Alex Misterman will be running the ball more often as a St. Francis starter at tailback in 2012.
Alex Misterman could be the best running back in Western New York who won’t officially be a starter at that position until his senior season.
That’s what happens when you back up arguably one of the most explosive tailbacks to ever suit up in the area. Akeel Lynch, who broke the Monsignor Martin single-season record for yards in a season with 2,136, along with scoring 30 touchdowns, started for two seasons after transferring to St. Francis from the Toronto area.
Even with playing in a limited role those seasons, Misterman may be the worst kept secret in Western New York. Whenever he’s gotten a chance, Misterman has been impressive, but those opportunities have come few and far between. His head coach, Jerry Smith, said it’s hard to keep a player of Misterman’s talents under raps, especially with all of the chatter that now goes on among players on the Internet and in social networking.
“Most everyone knows (about Misterman), it’s not a secret, and after the scrimmage, they’re all going to know,” Smith said last week before his team played in the preseason at Lockport. “It’s very hard in this area to hide anyone. Everybody knows everybody.”
It also didn’t help Misterman remain inconspicuous when he ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown in St. Francis’ Monsignor Martin championship game win over St. Joe’s after Lynch was hurt late in the second quarter. He also ran for 250 yards during the 2011 season against Fairview with the Red Raiders starter nursing a mildly sprained ankle.
“I think everyone knows what I’m capable of; it’s just that the opportunity hasn’t come until now,” said Misterman, who did start at cornerback and shined as a defensive playmaker last year. “Basically I’m going to show everyone who doesn’t know me what I’m all about. I know I’ve got my team behind me and we’re going to all play together as one.”
All in all, as a “back up” on offense, Misterman ran for 725 yards and seven scores last year, better than some teams’ starters.
“That’s pretty good for someone who’s playing there part time,” Smith said. “Hopefully, he ends up having a real good year. It’s all going to come down to whether he can stay healthy.”
While realizing he has big shoes to fill in the St. Francis’ backfield, Misterman remains focused on seeing that this year’s group gives a near perfect effort every day in practice and then goes out and executes in game situations.
“I know what I’m capable of and what this team is capable of, so basically we have to work with what we have,” said Misterman, a Monsignor Martin Second Team All-Star last year. “It comes down to how bad we want it. In practice, we’re going to have to do everything perfect if we’re going to beat the big teams like Aquinas and St. Ignatius. We need to have perfect blocks, perfect runs and perfect passes.”
Lynch wasn’t the only big-time senior lost to graduation. St. Francis will be minus 21 players from last year, eight of whom were named All-Western New York on some level.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get to the championship this year,” Misterman said. “Basically I’m just hoping for everyone to work hard, put all of their effort into every play and for everyone to do their job.”
Misterman is now serving as the mentor for those who will back him up. He and senior co-captains Jarrett Dolegala and Jim Sorgi are providing advice to any young players who will listen. Misterman is hoping to help mold the next player who will eventually fill his role.
“I’m definitely trying to be a leader,” he noted. “We’re definitely going to need leaders to step up and fill in the shoes that we need to replace from last year and obviously they need to know what St. Francis is all about.”
He may not have the statistics just yet to back this up, but Misterman could be one of the more intriguing players coming into the 2012 season.
Playing back up to Lynch the past two seasons has not only helped teach him what it takes to become a big-time back, but also the importance of patience. Misterman has waited for his chance to shine and this looks to be the year for it.