BRICK – Mike Gawlik is listed at 5-foot-9, 170-pounds on the Jackson Memorial roster.
The size and weight does not come close to telling the story about what kind of football player, Gawlik, a junior tailback and safety, is.
“He plays big,’’ Jackson Memorial coach Walt Krystopik said.
Everybody who was in attendance Friday night at Brick’s fabled Keller Memorial Field can attest to how big Gawlik plays.
Gawlik powered his way to 212 yards and two touchdowns on 36 physical carries to help the defending NJSIAA Central Group IV champion and No. 7 seed Jaguars record a 21-7 win over No. 2 seed Brick in a Central Group IV quarterfinal.
Jackson Memorial (6-4), which avenged a 2-0 loss at Brick on Oct. 2 and defeated Brick at Brick in the playoffs for the second consecutive season, will play at No. 6 seed Steinert (7-2) on Nov. 21 in a Central Group IV semifinal. Steinert defeated No. 3 seed Burlington Township, 16-7, Friday night.
Gawlik had 100 yards in the first half, 70 of which came on the first four plays of the game. He had 112 yards in the second half, 68 of which came on the first series of the half.
He was able to get his yards even though everyone knew he was getting the ball. He carried the ball on 19 of the Jaguars’ 22 plays in the second half and 36 of the Jaguars’ 47 plays in the game.
“It doesn’t matter about the size in front of him. He’s 145,150 pounds maybe soaking wet,’’ Krystopik said. “It doesn’t matter how big the kid is in front of him. He’s going to run him over. He’s going to challenge them physically. He’s got a huge heart and he plays hard.’’
For most of the last two seasons, Gawlik and senior Vincent Lee had split the carries, but developments at quarterback have resulted in a change of roles.
With junior Dan Barker having been sidelined with a concussion since mid-October and still working his way back into playing time after warming up before the game Friday night, standout senior receiver Kyle Johnson has moved to quarterback and Lee has moved to receiver. Johnson six carries for 15 yards and a TD) and Jared Calhoun (one carry for four yards on a fake punt) were the only other players to carry the ball Friday night.
“I’m getting used to running a lot more often,’’ Gawlik said. “The separation of me and Vinnie and putting Kyle (Johnson) at quarterback definitely gives us a wider variety of plays that we can run.’’
It also did not hurt Gawlik Friday night that the game was played on a dry field and not the quagmire that a nor’easter turned Keller Memorial Field into on Oct. 2, when Jackson Memorial managed just 67 yards of total offense.
“We shouldn’t have been playing in that (on Oct. 2). That was terrible, but it got us right,’’ Gawlik said. “We had to take that loss to get us focused.’’
Gawlik put the Jaguars (6-4) ahead to stay at 14-7 with a 1-yard dive on a third-and-goal with 3:54 left in the third quarter. He had eight carries for 68 yards on the 76-yard drive, including a 25-yard run in which a personal foul was tacked on to the end of.
The presence of Gawlik led to Johnson’s insurance TD with 4:58 left as Johnson kept ball in after faking to Gawlik on zone read plays for consecutive runs of 25 and 10 yards, with the second one accounting for the TD.
Gawlik had gotten Jackson Memorial off to a quick start with a 52-yard TD run around left end and down the left side on the fourth play of the game.
Brick, which concluded its season with an 8-2 record, tied the game 7-7 with 3:17 left in the first half on a 25-yard Anthony Costanza to Ja’Sir Taylor TD pass on a fourth-and-10.
Key play: A 25-yard run by Mike Gawlik to the Brick 16 in the third quarter and with a personal foul penalty tacked on to it gave the Jaguars a first-and-goal at the 8. Three plays later, Gawlik scored the go-ahead TD.
Offensive game ball: Jackson Memorial junior tailback Mike Gawlik, who ran for 212 yards and two TDs, in 36 carries.
Defensive game ball: Jackson Memorial senior defensive linemen, Austin Ostrander, Tyler Towns and junior linebacker Zack Lubertazzi.
Up next: Jackson Memorial will play at Steinert on Nov. 21 in a NJSIAA Central Group IV semifinal. Brick has concluded its season.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; firstname.lastname@example.org
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