When coach Brett Glass took over Dublin’s Jerome football program in March last year, he met his new players by training in the weight room.
One player quickly caught his attention.
Lineman Kyler LaRosa, then preparing for his junior season, was hard to miss for his athleticism and dedication. That commitment carried over to the field, as he was a starter on defense and also had game time on offense last season before becoming a two-way starter this season.
“He was one of those guys I saw in the weight room right away,” Glass said. “He looked good and proved it all.”
LaRosa continued to impress his coach, helping the Celtics to a 5-0 start before opening the Sept. 23 OCC-Cardinal Division game against Thomas Worthington. They continue the league action on September 30th in Marysville.
At 6ft 2 and 280 pounds, LaRosa was an iron man for Jerome as a starter at left guard on offense and tackle on defense. He never missed a snap on either side of the ball in the 16-7 win over Coffman on September 9, the Celtics’ first win over the Shamrocks.
“He played every single play in the Dublin Coffman game, which is very impressive,” Glass said. “We need him on both sides of the ball. He is a force on both sides. In an ideal world he wouldn’t have to play that much for both of us, but it’s what we need and he likes to do it.”
He would have pulled off the same feat in a 27-24 win over Hilliard Bradley on September 16 but had to sit out a few games after scraping his left elbow on Bradley’s artificial turf field. After the coaching staff treated the burn, LaRosa returned to the game.
“I had to go out because I was bleeding or something,” LaRosa said. “I thought there was no point, but the coaches said I had to do it.”
Offensively, he helped protect quarterback Zakk Tschirhart, who completed 87 of 122 passes for 816 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in five games.
“Kyler is a big help,” said Tschirhart. “I never have pressure from that left side. Kyler is the keeper and there’s never any pressure on his side. He’s so responsible. He will do the right thing every time and he will not be gassed. He plays defense. He’s just a dog.”
Defensively, LaRosa had 19 tackles, including nine for the loss, and two sacks in five games.
“I like the defense much better,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun because I feel like the defense is a little more challenging. This is better competition.”
Last season, he was a first-team All-District and All-League team and second-team All-State team.
LaRosa and the remaining offensive linemen should be tested in the second half of the season after losing both of their top running backs to injuries against Bradley.
Senior Luke McLoughlin suffered a severe right ankle sprain in the first quarter and could be out for three to four weeks, according to Glass. McLoughlin rushed for a team-high 630 yards and six touchdowns with 101 carries at halftime of the regular season.
Junior Cael Abdul Haqq suffered a broken leg late in the game and will be out for the rest of the season, according to Glass. Haqq ended up rushing for 305 yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries.
It was Jerome’s first 5-0 start since the start of the 2016 season at 7-0 en route to a 10-2 finish. The Celtics ranked sixth in the Division I poll released September 19.
“Our commitment is special because we always give our all on the field,” said LaRosa. “We have become much more disciplined over the years. … We have a lot of room for improvement.”
LaRosa, who plans to play in college, has stayed busy during the off-season by competing in a similar sport as a member of Dublin Rugby Club.
“I want to play college football,” LaRosa said. “I contacted many coaches. I just graduated from Georgetown College in Kentucky. That was pretty nice.”