Surprising is the operative word when it comes to Lakota East High School’s football team and junior fullback Jack Dobrozsi this season.
The Thunderhawks are off to a 3-0 start, while Dobrozsi — who logged two varsity carries for 8 yards last year — tops the Greater Miami Conference in rushing and has 226 more yards than any other GMC runner.
“We feel very fortunate to be 3-0,” East coach Rick Haynes said. “We’re happy, but our kids will just keep working and try to keep improving.”
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Voted sixth in the preseason conference coaches poll, the Thunderhawks have defeated Walnut Hills (24-21), Kings (34-27) and Princeton (24-14). Those teams are a combined 2-7, but Haynes said his squad has shown some resilience while finding ways to win.
East travels to Fairfield, 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the GMC, on Friday night.
“We started off with our two scrimmages against Middletown and La Salle, and especially against Middletown, we didn’t do so well,” Dobrozsi said. “That kind of put us off track, but I think with our first game, we got mentally right.”
Dobrozsi is a 5-foot-10, 200-pound bruiser in the Thunderhawks’ triple-option offense. He’s got 516 yards and 10 touchdowns on 99 carries and set a single-game school record by rushing for five TDs against Kings.
“That’s surprising, but our offense is built around the fullback,” Haynes said. “I think we all kind of knew Jack had the potential to be a good player. He’s got a good feel running between the tackles.”
Dobrozsi was East’s junior varsity fullback in 2016. He’s bigger, faster and stronger this year.
“I trained really hard this offseason,” Dobrozsi said. “I didn’t have any thoughts that I was going to be this far, but I just kind of had trust in myself.”
Senior quarterback Dylan Fry (31 carries, 182 yards) and senior running back Jeff Garcia (26 carries, 227 yards) are also quality runners for the Thunderhawks, who are averaging 5.7 yards per carry as a team.
“Rick Haynes always has East prepared no matter what their personnel is like, and right now he’s got good personnel on top of really good coaching,” Fairfield coach Jason Krause said. “What they do is what they do. They don’t hide anything with their system, and they’re good at it.”
Dobrozsi has been the workhorse. He described his running style as a combination of power and speed while crediting his offensive linemen.
“They really do a lot of hard work up there so we can keep punching the ball down the field,” Dobrozsi said.
And what about his big numbers?
“It’s awesome,” Dobrozsi said. “But I try not to let that get to my head too much. To me, stats compared to other people, that’s nothing. I just like to be the best I can be and nothing else.”
He figures to be challenged by a Fairfield defense that’s allowing 99.3 yards per game on the ground. The Indians were very good defensively in a 10-3 win over Lakota West last weekend.
“The game was fast. There were a lot of really good football players on the field that night,” Krause said. “I kind of like starting the league that way. It kind of woke us up like, ‘All right, here’s the GMC. That’s how we play ball in this league.’ It was good for our kids to get a tough, hard win like that.”
The Indians’ offense hasn’t been great, but Krause said it’s on the upswing. Sophomore Jutahn McClain is the top runner with 226 yards on 33 carries, and junior quarterback Jeff Tyus is 31 of 78 for 393 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.
“I think we’ve progressed, but we’ve got to play more error-free football as our schedule gets tougher,” Krause said. “Our kids’ effort has been good.”
Krause said the Thunderhawks’ defense has a number of standouts. He’s been especially impressed with junior free safety Avi McGary.
Junior linebacker Del Thomas leads the Indians with 28 total tackles.
“Fairfield has really good players. They just haven’t put it all together yet,” Haynes said. “You can tell they’re a lot better than their record.”
East leads this series 9-6, though Fairfield has won the last two meetings.