By Brandon Judeh
No matter the sport, every class dreams of their senior season being a special, unforgettable journey.
Nick Pollifrone and his Struthers teammates had the same dream and at the beginning of the season — on paper — they looked poised to live it.
“We actually don’t look at any of the media stuff,” Pollifrone said. “We pretty much ignore it because it’s not really good to get caught up in that stuff.”
A 4-0 start proved that Struthers was for real, but a bump in the road during the middle of the season tested the will of the Wildcats.
A loss to Hubbard followed by a heartbreaking 31-28 loss to Poland put the Wildcats (9-2) on the ropes.
“A lot of teams may have switched things up, but to be honest we just kept going out to practice and doing the same thing we had been prior to the losses,” Pollifrone said. “We just worked harder at practice in order to get better.”
Five straight wins followed, including last week’ss 14-3 first-round playoff victory over Lakeview. It was Struthers’ first playoff win since 1999.
This run can be credited to the leadership of Pollifrone and his classmates.
“Nick is probably the most unselfish player I have ever coached or been around,” Struthers head coach Curt Kuntz said. “Whether it’s playing at fullback, tailback or receiver, he does what’s best for the team.
“The entire senior class is a great bunch, six or seven of them have 3.9 or 4.0 GPAs. That right there says a lot.”
One of the 4.0 students is Pollifrone and he credits the success of his team and teammates academics to all of the hard work they put in day to day.
“Nothing against any of the other classes I have been around, but us seniors are the hardest working bunch of guys I have been around,” Pollifrone said. “We go out and get it done, one of our main goals was to put Struthers back on the map and so far we have achieved that.”
Not only is Pollifrone a leader on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, but he is also one off of the field.
The running back and linebacker often uses his free time to help teach younger athletes about the game of football, not because he has to, but because he wants to do it.
“The Struthers community is so important to all of these kids, they love making the town proud and they have been a positive influence on all of the underclassman,” Kuntz said.
Struthers next test will come at 7:30 p.m. tonight against Cardinal Mooney in Niles.
“It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we prepare the same way for every team,” Pollifrone said. “As long as we go out and execute our game plan and play our game, then it all rests on our shoulders. Either way, it has been one amazing ride.”