Western Reserve QB honored by Curbstone Coaches
By Greg Gulas
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the area’s top high school football players are also among the best academically at their respective schools.
Dominic Velasquez, a quarterback, captain and four-year letterwinner for head coach Andy Hake’s Western Reserve Blue Devils, was named the recipient of this year’s Curbstone Coaches Byrd Giampetro Scholarship Award, presented Sunday afternoon at Mount Carmel Banquet Center.
“This is truly a great honor and an unbelievable feeling to receive this award,” Velasquez said. “I’ve had a great time at Western Reserve and especially playing for coach Hake. I want to thank him for showing me what a true role model is.”
An honor student who has earned a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average, Velasquez is ranked No. 1 in his class while enrolled in the most challenging curriculum offered by his school.
His dream is to become an ophthalmologist and he has already been accepted to Boston College, Cincinnati, North Carolina and Ohio State upon graduation.
Other schools he is considering include Drexel, Georgetown, Virginia, William and Mary and Yale.
“My mom, Sharon, is driven, very organized and I see many of those values in myself,” he said. “I also want to thank my family for their unconditional support.”
The Blue Devils were 15-6 the past two years and finished 8-3 last fall.
“Dom is an excellent student in the classroom and on the field. He was an absolute joy to coach,” Hake said. “He’s one of the very best when it comes to leadership, isn’t self-centered, is team-oriented and the kids like him off the field as well. It’s an honor for him to win this award and an honor for our school as well.”
Velasquez was a first-team Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference and Quad County selection as a senior, also earning Associated Press second-team Inland district honors.
According to the OHSAA, Velasquez was the last student-athlete in the state to successfully execute a drop-kick extra-point.
A four-year letterwinner in baseball — he earned first-team league and NEO Baseball Coaches Association honors — he also earned three letters as a member of the Blue Devils’ basketball squad.
The sophomore class president and student council representative that same year, Velasquez is a member of both the school’s National Honor Society and Spanish NHS.
A choir soloist, he is a member of the Ohio Music Educators Association District Honors Choir and during the height of football season, found time to secure lead roles in school plays.
He has been a part of outside academic research and opportunities to further challenge himself in STEM areas, such as the ocular cancer research he pursued at Case Western Reserve Medical School.
A certified baseball, basketball and softball umpire, he has also served on the Ohio Attorney General’s Youth Advisory Board
Youngstown State head football coach Bo Pelini served as guest speaker, telling all honorees to be the best that they can be each and every day.
“When you travel throughout the country like I have, you meet people that know about Youngstown, Ohio and the type of football that is played here,” Pelini said. “I’m in the midst of finalizing our 2018 class, visit a lot of young men and I see them already laying the foundation for the next chapter in their lives.
“The message is simple. It isn’t easy out there with the many challenges that you will be facing. You have to own every decision you make because that will determine what you do down the road and in life. The future is a culmination of the decisions that you make. Who you listen to and associate with is big. Stand your ground and I challenge you to then give back to those who have invested in you along the way.”
The other 13 finalists for the $1,000 scholarship award included Sam Accordino (Canfield), Evan Adair (Lakeview), Aniello Buzzacco (South Range), Derek Gilcher (Liberty), Jonathan James Henson (Jefferson), Tyler Humphrey (United Local), Kyle Linhart (West Branch), Rhen McConaughey (LaBrae), Jeffery Rhodes (East Palestine), Nick Scarl (Jackson-Milton), Logan Schnabl (Valley Christian), Calvin Wolford (McDonald) and Joseph Zielinski (Austintown Fitch).