Blecha Does It All
At the start of the 2016 season, Franklinville/Ellicottville football coach Chad Bartoszek knew two things that he could count on from his new quarterback Brock Blecha. Then a junior, Blecha had already spent his sophomore year leading the Titans defense at middle linebacker, and was emerging as a talented runner in the backfield. Yards with his legs and stops on defense were a given.
“We knew that getting him into the backfield as a quarterback was going to let us run him from that position,” Bartoszek said.
What Bartoszek didn’t know is that while Blecha would continue his team-leading defensive play while picking up quarterback duties, he also had the skills and determination to push his game to new levels on the offensive side of the ball.
“We quickly found out how effective he can be throwing the ball,” the Titans coach said. “We realized he could throw early on in the season. He really became a dual threat to defend, because he is such a strong runner.
Cut to a year later, and Blecha would lead the Titans to a record of 9-1 during his senior campaign, including a perfect 5-0 run in Section VI Class D games.
In doing so, he would total 619 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns, and 1,308 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and just one interception, while also setting the standard on defense and special teams.
Those numbers and Blecha’s impact during his final year with the Titans make him this year’s Post-Journal Player of the Year.
For Bartoszek and many of those fortunate enough to work with Blecha during the 2017 season, no game speaks more about the quarterback’s prowess than a crucial Sept. 15 matchup with Maple Grove to decide which team would begin their season with a leg up in Class D.
While the Titans had made their mark as a run-heavy team, that just was not working out that Friday night on Dutch Hollow Road.
“The first Maple Grove game, we had trouble running the ball, they are such a good run defending team,” Bartoszek recalled.
Working in the spirit of “take what the defense gives you,” Blecha made the most of his opportunities, going 19 of 25 for 227 yards passing while rushing for 67 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think at one point he had 15 completions in a row. The first game he had an all-around dynamic game, a special game.”
As to be expected, Blecha finished that night with eight tackles as well as the Titans were able to stymie the Red Dragons for a 26-6 win on enemy soil.
At the end of his campaign Blecha would lead the Titans with 52 total tackles, 12 more than the next closest teammate, with 4¢ for a loss and four pass breakups. The senior also returned an interception 60 yards for a score.
While Blecha was happy to take over under center and lead his team, he wanted to make it clear that defense was still a top priority.
“That was one of the stipulations, if he was going to be quarterback he still wanted to be middle backer,” Bartoszek said.
Considering the workload that Blecha had on the table, the numbers that were compiled off the senior’s kicking foot are all the more impressive.
They include making 14-of-19 point-after attempts, compiling 2,178 yards on 52 kickoffs for an average of 41.9 yards and four touchbacks; and 17 punts for 439 yards with an average of 25.8 yards with four boots landing inside the opposing 20-yard line.
Those numbers would be pleasing to a player who kicks all day, morning noon and night, let alone one who leads his team in tackles and finished the year with 1,927 yards of offense and 619 all-purpose yards.
Complementing Blecha’s well-rounded performance on the field is the senior’s calm, cool and collected demeanor in crunch time. Yelling, screaming and getting in the faces of his teammates just isn’t his style.
“He’s usually business-like,” Bartoszek said. “He is there every day. He is ready to work. I got to know him well over the last two years, and he is very consistent in terms of his preparation. Off the field, he is a kid; when it comes to football time he is very workman-like.”
And it is not only the football field where Blecha is able to show his stuff, the senior is also an integral part of the Franklinville basketball and baseball teams.
While some coaches might be concerned about their star player spending too much time on other sports, Bartoszek looks at Blecha’s variety of athletic experience as a boon to his team.
“If you research and read on the stuff, there is competitiveness. Multi-sport athletes are constantly competing. We promote multi-sport athletes as a way to compete, as a way to stay healthy with your body, and as a way to stay fresh — as much as you want to focus on one thing,” he said.
“These kids shouldn’t be focusing in on one thing and Brock has always been a three-sporter. I would love to have more time to focus on football, but in the long run it is better for the kids.”
It is hard to argue with Blecha’s results.