Sarnoski shoulders Nashoba QB pressure quietly.
COLUMN: DIVISION 2 FOOTBALL
Albert Schweitzer once said, "Example is leadership." Jack Sarnoski not only believes these words, he lives them.
As difficult as it is to believe that the quarterback of an unbeaten team riding a 21-game winning streak could go virtually unnoticed, that is the case with Sarnoski - at least publicly. People know the names of Zack Hume, John Ojukwu, Andrew Cross and Brady Schartner, but few outside the Nashoba Regional High football community know much about Sarnoski.
"I don't worry about anything except the team winning," Sarnoski said. "I love to play and help the team in whatever way I can. If that's making a play, that's great. If that is just supporting someone who feels down after something (bad), that's great, too. Helping the team have success is a great feeling."
Sarnoski's belief in his teammates is evident during the game. He can be seen talking to teammates during timeouts or between quarters, congratulating someone on a great play or pumping up a teammate who is down. He has proven to be a compassionate leader on the field.
But he demonstrates that compassion off the field as well. A few weeks ago, he approached Nashoba athletic director Tania Rich about the possibility of Zack Murphy, a Like Skills student at Nashoba, being an honorary captain for a game. Murphy is an ardent supporter of the team, has attended school with many of the players since elementary grades, and sits with many of the players at lunch.
Rich set it up and Murphy got to call the coin toss in Nashoba's Homecoming win over rival Clinton High.
"Jack came to me and just said they wanted Zack to be part of the team since he is there supporting them every week," Rich said. "It just shows the type of kid Jack is. He always is looking to help others."
The Nashoba senior has put together an impressive season, completing 52 percent of his passes for 628 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers may not match those of others in Division 2, like Doherty's Luke Brennan, but the Chieftains are not a pass-first team.
With weapons like Ojukwu, Cross and Frankie Chiodo in the backfield, Sarnoski hasn't been asked to carry the offense. However, whenever Nashoba has needed him to step up, he has.
A perfect example came late in last week's win over No. 3 Doherty. With the Chieftains locked in a 21-21 deadlock, Sarnoski led his team down the field before connecting on a 35-yard touchdown pass with Schartner to give Nashoba the lead and the win.
"Jack is a guy we have complete confidence in," coach Ken Tucker said earlier this season. "He's a tough kid who does what needs to be done to be successful. He was a key part of our defense last year, and he stepped in (at quarterback) when we needed him last season."
Sarnoski was a huge contributor on defense during Nashoba's Super Bowl run last season. He was one of the team's top tacklers as a linebacker and established himself as a defensive leader.
He also led the team to victory in one of last season's key games, a 14-0 win over Holy Name that gave Nashoba the confidence that it could win a Super Bowl.
"Last year was amazing," Sarnoski said. "We accomplished so much and really came together as a team. I think we all learned a lot from that, from how to work together to how to overcome adversity to how to prepare for each and every game. Those things have come in handy this year, too."
Sarnoski knows a bit about overcoming adversity. He suffered a shoulder injury early last season but played through the pain, with his shoulder popping out once or twice a game. After re-injuring it on the ski slopes over the winter, he had surgery in March. He missed baseball season, but started working out in early summer and had been prepping for football since.
"It was not an easy thing to go through," he said. "My shoulder hurt a lot during football, and then I had to miss baseball, which was not fun. But it has been worth it because my shoulder feels great now."