Gozelski making transition from hardwood to gridiron

Posted: Sunday, August 01, 2010

Juneau-Douglas lacks a bevy of big guys to blow people off the line of scrimmage, so the Crimson Bears intend to blow by them instead.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Or in the case of rising senior receiver Colin Gozelski, who stands 6-foot-3, go up and over them.

Gozelski has never played organized football before, but his athleticism -e's also a versatile swingman for the Crimson Bears basketball team -hould pay dividends on the gridiron.

"We played at recess in elementary school, that's about it. I always wanted to play, but my mom didn't want me to get hurt for basketball," Gozelski said. "I still haven't really convinced her to let me play, I just kind of went out and did it. I didn't want to hold anything back for my senior year."

JDHS coach Rich Sjoroos said Gozelski's attitude has been infectious amongst the more tenured players.

"He's super excited and when you get a kid like that, it makes everyone else around him that's been in football for a while get excited all over again," he said. "Here's a guy that's new to the sport and look at how much fun he's having, and how thrilled he is to be out here.

"It's fun to see and he's feeding really well off other guys on the team."

Sjoroos said he expects Gozelski to have an impact in his lone season, and stepping on to the football field for the first time and being successful isn't unheard of. Last year at Thunder Mountain, Cody Grussendorf -lso a basketball standout who is almost a carbon copy of Gozelski as far as size - took the field for the Falcons at receiver, and he was named the team's offensive MVP.

"It's a lot like that," Gozelski said in comparison. "When coaches saw how well Cody did last year, they thought I might be able to do the same thing, so I'm going to try to do that this year."

The Crimson Bears went to the Boise State University football camp over the summer and Gozelski was named the top receiver.

"I had never been in a football game in my life so when we got there, it was a big jump," Gozelski said. "And the weather down there was really hot, so it was totally different than Alaska. Thanks to Phillip (Fenumiai) and Coach Sjoroos, I got a lot of opportunities and scored some touchdowns.

"It was a great experience for me, and winning MVP was a big shock."

Fenumiai, a second-year starter and team captain under center, said Gozelski is picking up the offense just fine, and he's glad to have another weapon out wide to partner with Eric Fagerstrom, a rising senior who returns after missing last season due to injury.

JDHS also has stud backfield with the 1-2 punch of rising seniors Matthew Maka, an Army All-Amercian Bowl nominee, and Justin Brooks, who combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards last season.

Fenumiai rattled off a laundry list of offensive weapons he has at his disposal.

"Colin is getting the hang of it and doing really well. Eric, everyone knows what he does; he makes plays for us, big plays. And we've got Matthew in the backfield, an All-American nominee. He's going to big things for us this year, and Justin Brooks, too.

"And I've got Chris Holloway on my left and Sean Collum in the slot," he continued. "Sean came from JV last year and he's going to make some plays and he's pretty fast and quick. I really like both of them and their speed. Those two can really spread the field out. This year is going to be a lot of fun."

Fagerstom has helped mold Gozelski into a receiver.

"It's his first year so I've been doing whatever I can to teach him some tips and some moves," Fagerstrom said. "But he's catching on really quick and he already knew a lot of this stuff. He just jumped in here and is acting like a veteran on this team. He's stepped up to everyone else's level of play and is doing really well."

Gozelski likes to picture his pairing with Fagerstrom to that of Randy Moss and Wes Welker of New England Patriots fame. Moss is the tall, lanky receiver who can out-jump everyone, where Welker is the smaller, shiftier player who finds creases to break big runs.

"I'm mostly a straight up-and-down (the field) guy; not a whole lot of stuff over the middle," Gozelski said. "I'm not as strong as Eric, so I stay away from the middle and go down the corners and catch balls. Eric is really eager to get back on the field since he's been injured. He's pushed me a lot and he's a great leader."

Sjoroos said the outlook for the offense this season is intriguing.

"Well, I think the biggest thing is we need to utilize our speed and stay positive. We're going to face adversity. You face it every single year," he said. "Right now, I really like the mentality of this group. These guys are willing to take on any challenge that is thrown their way, and they'll be ready to play some football."

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