When Ryan Adzima’s pass fell into Rich Culbert’s waiting arms in the corner of the end zone Friday night, it was the finishing touch on Wallington‘s stirring rally from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit. But of all the plays that added up to the Panthers’ 45-42 victory over Weehawken — the sure-handed grabs, the drive-extending runs, the blocks that bought Adzima just an extra second — perhaps the most important moves took place off the field.
Adzima, calm and confident, gathered his linemen on the sideline and began to rally them.
“I told them to keep blocking,” the junior said. “I told them that we need them or else we don’t have a chance of making some plays.”
Next, he went to his receivers and reminded them that with their no-huddle spread offense, they could score points in a hurry.
“We have a couple of burners in Jose [Bonilla] and “Danny [Severino],” Adzima said. “I told them that we needed them to make some big plays.”
The last-minute victory was full of big plays for Adzima. He completed 29 of 44 passes for 478 yards and five touchdowns, connecting with Brian Kowalczyk 11 times. He ran 10 times for 30 yards and a touchdown. He kicked two extra points. He threw for a two-point conversion and ran for another one. He made a field goal.
The victory also reinforced Adzima’s theory that the quarterback must set the tone for the offense — maybe the whole team.
“I’d like to think so,” said Adzima, The Record Male Athlete of the Week. “I try to kind of bring them up. You make one big play and the whole team can get a boost of momentum that carries through to the defense and then to the special teams, and then they bring it back to the offense.”
Sports are a common topic of conversation around the dinner table in the Adzima home. Ryan’s dad, Stephen, played defensive end for the Giants in 1977. His older brother, also named Stephen, was a member of the University of Miami team that won the 2001 national championship. Ryan’s older sister, Racquel, is a standout on the Wallington volleyball team. And his twin brother, Michael, is an offensive tackle at Don Bosco.
“He looks the same as me,” Ryan said, “just add 50 pounds of muscle and a buzz cut.”
Luckily, Stephen and mom, Roxanne, don’t have to choose between their sons’ games, because Wallington and Don Bosco do not play on the same days this season.