October 23, 2014

Elyria
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High school football: Avon Lake’s Brian Mihalik following in his dad’s footsteps

Like father, like son, right? Not so fast.

Avon Lake’s Brian Mihalik is a big reason the Shoremen are in the playoffs again, and not just because he’s 6-foot 7. As a defensive end, the Boston College recruit is a load for oppsoing offenses to handle. And he also gives defenses fits at tight end. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

Avon Lake’s Brian Mihalik is a big reason the Shoremen are in the playoffs again, and not just because he’s 6-foot 7. As a defensive end, the Boston College recruit is a load for oppsoing offenses to handle. And he also gives defenses fits at tight end. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

Avon Lake’s 6-foot-7 senior defensive end Brian Mihalik certainly had the bloodlines to be a great football player.

After all, his father, John, was a three-sport star at Elyria Catholic three decades earlier, who went on to win three letters in football at Boston College.

Brian will attend BC and play football in the fall.

Pretty easy decision, huh?

“It was really a pretty difficult decision,” John said. “I wanted to remove myself from the decision. I wanted to be sure Brian wanted to go there and I wanted to be sure (Boston College) really wanted him. Once we got past all that, it was a good fit.”

“(Boston College) had a lot to offer,” Brian said.

“After visiting several schools, it just seemed to be the best overall fit. Dad didn’t want to push it, but BC is a good academic school. I enjoyed being around the players and the coaches. It was the right choice.”

Mihalik had offers from several Big 10 schools and several more from the Big East before making his decision to go to Boston College.

“Years from now, the education will be the important thing,” said his father. “It’ll mean much more to him as he gets older.”

“Obviously his size attracted a lot of looks from Division I schools,” Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz said.

“He’s 245 pounds but looks rail thin until you take a closer look. He’s been in the weight room every day and is very strong and fast. His long arms keep people off him and he’s tough to turn the corner on. He’s deceivingly fast (4.8 for the 40-yard dash).”

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Brian will lead the Shoremen into tonight’s home playoff date with Maumee, the same school Avon Lake defeated in the first round a year ago on Maumee’s field.

“(Maumee) likes to use the whole field,” he said. “We kind of know what they like to do. It’ll be nice to play at home this time.”

Typical of a team player, Brian would rather talk about the entire defense than his individual stats. When asked how many sacks he has, he didn’t even know.

“I don’t know how many I have but we’ve given up 94 points as a team,” he said.

“We’ve been playing better as the year as moved along. We have lots of weapons on defense.”

Mihalik, who also lines up at tight end, has two touchdowns — both on the defensive side of the ball. He returned an interception against Shaker Heights for one score and picked up a fumble and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown against Midpark.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “We have a lot of pride in our defense. We just want to keep playing.”

It gives the younger Mihalik some family bragging rights, although his father led the area in scoring with 132 points as a tailback in 1981.

“I know my dad was a good player,” he said. “I’ve heard some of the stories — mostly from other people.”

“I hope they win Friday,” John said. “It’s a good group of kids. The seniors have come a long way. I think they won only two games in the seventh grade and may have just won two or three as eighth-graders and freshmen. It’s nice to see the hard work pay off.”

“This is a typical Avon Lake senior class,” Dlugosz said.

“They’ve been there to see what we’ve accomplished and they wanted to be a part of it when it was their turn. The defense is senior-laden and has gotten better with each passing week.”

Unsung hero: Zack Wootton, senior, center

With his first and last name, Zack Wootton often finds himself being at the end of the roll call.

But when it comes to the Avon Lake football team, Wootton is hardly the last man called on.

Wootton

Wootton

“He’s a leader,” Shoremen coach Dave Dlugosz said. “He’s been very good with our younger players. He drags them to the weight room. He’s very solid.”

Wootton is listed as a 6-foot-1, 235-pound center on the roster, but those numbers are probably exaggerated slightly.

“He’s 220,” Dlugosz said. “But he has the competitive desire. When he gets knocked down, he doesn’t stay down very long. He always manages to get back up. He’s very resilient.”

And he’s typical of the type of player Avon Lake seems to develop year in and year out. He bided his time waiting to get the opportunity to start and contribute to the Shoremen legacy.

“He’s earning his first letter,” Dlugosz said. “I could name other kids on the team. We’ve got kids getting scholarships. We’ve got all-league and all-county players, but Zack is as solid as they come. He’s worked very hard in the offseason and was ready to step up for us this year.”

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.