Graber sacks quarterbacks
Devin Graber established himself as a big time player and hopes to take his game to a higher level. A senior captain for the Staples football team, he was a First Team All-FCIAC selection.
"It's an honor and an indication of the coaches' success in teaching me and my teammates supporting me," Graber said. "I'm very proud to get it."
His contributions to Staples' 12-1 record, FCIAC title and Class LL finals appearance happened on both sides of the ball as he started on both the offensive and defensive lines.
"Without his work ethic, determination and perseverance, we wouldn't have had as many wins as we had," Wreckers Coach Marce Petroccio said.
Defensively, he had 13 sacks and played a role in Staples having one of the stingiest defenses in the state.
"Since I'm not one of the bigger guys up there, a lot of my success comes from quickness and technique, which helps me beat the guys in front of me," Graber said. "It all comes from Coach P, [assistant] Coach [Jesse] McCray and [assistant] Coach [Guy] D'Allesio helping me with technique, giving me a good stance and helping me get around and through the blockers. They taught me how to tackle."
Being fierce helped him succeed on defense. This tenacity enabled him to use his strength in beating opposing linemen, which made it easy for him to take down the quarterback and tailback.
"You got to understand it is high school football and you won't get another chance," Graber said.
On offense, he made a difference as the only returning offensive lineman and his work there allowed him to open up gaping holes for tailback Matt Kelly to exploit. His ability to keep defensive linemen at bay gave quarterbacks Brandon Pacilio and Keith Gelman ample time to throw.
Similar to his work on defense, he credits Petroccio, McCray and D'Allesio for his success as well as assistant coach Tim Romano.
"Having quickness off the ball, good technique and explosiveness, helps me," Graber said. "My passion for the game also helps me. It allows me to channel all the energy I have to go after my opponent and not stop until the referee's whistle."
One potential drawback of being an offensive lineman is that the line does all the grunt work that makes it possible for the quarterback and tailback to succeed but doesn't receive the accolades.
"I love being an offensive lineman because you attack those in front of you and you don't get hit," Graber said. "I get satisfaction knowing the offensive linemen paved the way for Brandon, Keith, Matt and the skill position players to succeed."
Life on the gridiron began for him in fifth grade in Westport PAL.
"My dad played and recommended it to me," Graber recalled. "I loved it and I never stopped."
Growing up, he played basketball and baseball but gave them up to focus on football. Sophomore year, he began throwing the shot put and discus in outdoor track, which enables him to build his strength for football. The same adrenaline that fuels him in football carries him in track as well.
Leadership is another strength of his as he served as captain. He led the Wreckers by example through his work ethic and verbally by firing up his teammates, knowing he had a lot of responsibilities, on and off the field, which he had no problems fulfilling.
"It was an honor and I liked leading the kids," Graber said.
Academically, he's an honors student. Math is his favorite subject.
"I take the same mentality of hard work in football and use it in the classroom," Graber said. "Good time management also helps."
Next year, he will attend the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania. Similar to his father Lance, he hopes to walk on to the UPenn football team. In order to do so, he knows he'll have to improve in many facets.
"It's a I-AA football program and to walk on, I have to lift and continue to stay in shape," Graber. "I have to get bigger, faster and stronger and if I do all that, I'll have a chance."
Petroccio is confident Graber will succeed.
"He was a quiet and great leader for us and someone the program will miss," Petroccio said. "He'll do awesome and will be a contributor for them."