Friday October 19, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Frontier senior Nick King lays down one of his aggressive and jarring hits on an Orchard Park player this season. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Frontier senior LB savors opportunity to lay down big hits
When Nick King hits an opposing player, the opposition doesn’t just feel it, so does his Frontier teammates. While the opposition experiences the crunch, those next to him wearing the Falcons’ blue are provided the momentum that the jarring blow can provide a team.
Football may be one of the ultimate contact sports, but there are few players out there actually hoping to be in the middle of a hard-hitting collision on each and every play while on the field.
In that way, King is a rare breed of player. Not only does he have a nose for the ball, finding himself in on so many stops for Frontier’s defense, but the senior linebacker is also not shy about laying down the lumber on an opponent.
Those hit by King usually aren’t just tackled; they’re pancaked, lit up, however else a big hit can be described. And it happens often. It’s not out of the ordinary that King shows up in the stat line with anywhere from 12 to 15 tackles in a given game. He was far and away the team’s top tackler last season and that trend has continued in 2012.
He’s averaging 13.4 tackles per game, including 13 tackles for losses, five of those were quarterback sacks, in the first seven games of the season. He’s also forced three fumbles and added 13 quarterback hurries.
“Nick craves contact; he loves to hit people,” Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski said. “Nick’s a great kid who puts forth great effort. He’s the type of kid who really hits you — he doesn’t want to just tackle you. It’s not that it’s dirty; he’s just got that kind of pop that we try to teach every kid.”
King’s physicality helps to set the tone for the aggressive, downhill style that Myslinski and defensive coordinator Mark Privateer are looking to play.
“I’m trying to be a leader and help the guys out mentally and be an example by hitting harder and doing things like that to get us going,” said King, who was selected to the First Team All-Class AA South last season.
On a team with only a handful of senior starters, Frontier has reaped the benefits of the example that King has provided. After a 5-2 regular season, the Falcons are heading to the playoffs for the second time in three years in search of the program’s first postseason victory since winning the Section VI title in 1984.
“Oh yeah, we’re proud,” King said. “It’s good to see us come through like this and we’re looking forward to the playoffs. We’re really pumped.”
Myslinski credits King’s success with having a supportive family, being a constant in the weight room and bringing that desire to each and every play and of course, all of his big hits. His head coach also pointed out that Nick’s brother, Jeff, a former Frontier football player, competed with the same hard-nosed mentality.
“Nick’s one of our hardest workers and one of the most dedicated in the weight room,” Myslinski pointed out. “Nick and his brother, Jeff, are cut from the same clothe. They’re both so aggressive and love the game of football.”
While Frontier’s defense has been scored upon with regularity at times this season, it’s that unit which has helped the team settle down and win four of its five games in come-from-behind fashion.
“Our defense has been playing every down really hard,” King said. “Even though the other team may get a long drive on us, we still pick ourselves up and play hard the next drive. I think we have a solid D.”
King is a believer that impacting hits are going to get his team heading in the right direction. Frontier and King leveled some of those during the second half in coming back at Hamburg with 42 unanswered points after at one point trailing 20-7 in the regular season finale on Friday (Oct. 12).
“We had to come back so we knew we needed to get everyone fired up and start making big hits,” he noted. “Once we started to get our momentum, there’s started to drop.”
Though a smaller senior group this season than in most years, King is proud to say that this class is one that gives the ultimate of effort on each and every play.
“Our senior class may not be the biggest or strongest, but I feel like we’ve always had the biggest heart,” he said. “We never give up until the play is over and we hear the whistle.”
Myslinski hopes that King’s impact on the football field will be recognized with an All-Western New York selection. But even if not chosen, King's importance to the Frontier program will not be diminished.
“I think he’s one of the best linebackers in the whole league,” Myslinski said. “All-Western New York would be nice for him to get a little props. Normally, at Frontier, we don’t get that. He needs a little credit. If he doesn’t, that’s fine; we’ll put it up on the bulletin board (for motivation) and it is was it is. Our kids thrive off that.”
King still astounds many of his own coaches with what he’s able to do each day in practice. Frontier assistant coach Joe Fasciana said King “lit up the place” in the team’s return to the practice field after the win over Hamburg.
Now, even scarier for opponents, King is getting a little more use on the offensive side of the ball, adding depth to the fullback position after starter Kenny Kahler went down with a knee sprain three games ago. A hint for opposing defenses — he hits just as hard when he’s either carrying the ball or blocking on an isolation play.
“Did you see Nick run over a couple of tacklers,” Myslinski said with a sneaky laugh, just as he did the week before when his linebacker got some action at fullback and did much of the same in a win over Lancaster. “He doesn’t get tons of reps but he’s getting more.”