At some point heading into his senior year, the proverbial "green light" went off for Cody Laszlo--especially in the weight room.

After starting as the center on the Staples football team the previous season, head coach Merce Petroccio and the rest of the coaching staff asked him to switch full-time to nose guard.

"As a young kid [players] learn how to deal with adversity going against the older kids and then they mature into their spot," Tim Romano, the team's offensive line and strength coach, said amidst a cacophony of clanging weights. "And it's the same with him. It didn't come easy for him. He worked hard."

The out-of-shape freshman who had first walked into the weight room four years ago had long transformed into a 6-2 upperclassman. He went on to serve as a top run-stopper for the Wreckers on their way to being runners-up in the Class LL championship game last December.

"He worked his tail off all spring, all summer and became a pretty dominant force in the middle," Petroccio said of Laszlo. "He forces you to double-team him. When you don't double-team, he'll make a play, so that takes some of the pressure off of the linebackers."

"It's basically a puzzle. You've got to find your way," Laszlo added.

"I tried to clog up the middle so [teams would] be forced to run outside and then the guys on the outside would basically do their job."

Laszlo's efforts on the field, which included 91 tackles--70 solo--and four sacks, allowed him to be named an all-FCIAC Central selection, while piquing the interest of area college coaches.

"I just can't wait to get there," Laszlo said of playing in college.

"I can't wait to play."

Where "there" is a question that the senior hopes to answer within a month, although all signs point to Division II's Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Petroccio's alma mater. Staples senior kicker Santiago Cuartas has already signed a verbal commitment with SCSU. Laszlo was also scheduled to go on an official visit today to Nichols College, a Division III school in Dudley, Mass. Those are the only schools he is in contact with at this point.

Although Laszlo enjoyed playing nose guard, he's fine with going wherever he fits in the giant puzzle known as the team roster: "It depends what the coach wants. If he thinks I have another talent at another position, then he'll probably put me there."

The senior's current concern is bulking up to the 250-pound frame he carried into this past season, after shedding about 20 pounds during the season to improve his speed and agility.

"There's a big gap when you have your season, so you kind of lose your muscle mass," he said. "That's what I did and now I'm just trying to get myself back up there."

So he can play the role of a freshman yet again--on a much bigger stage. What will it take for him to succeed in college? Romano answers the question for him.

"Commitment," Romano said. "And he'll have to start all over again fighting through the adversity of being the young guy. It'll be even harder this time because every time you go against somebody in college it's the worst day of your life when you're young. You don't get a play off."