Ti­tle doesn’t quite ful­fill Scalzo’s wish

In­jured QB happy to win, frus­trated he couldn’t play

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Sports - By David Furones [email protected]­sen­tinel.com /@DavidFurones_

OR­LANDO — This was ex­actly how Nik Scalzo en­vi­sioned his high school ca­reer end­ing: Pulling up to the gates at Camp­ing World Sta­dium in Or­lando to wrap up his se­nior sea­son and bring Car­di­nal Gibbons its first state ti­tle.

Ex­actly how he pic­tured it ex­cept for one key de­tail that prob­a­bly wasn’t part of those dreams.

He wasn’t play­ing in the game.

It was a per­fectly im­per­fect end­ing for the 6-foot, 185-pound Ken­tucky quar­ter­back com­mit. He was out for that Class 5A cham­pi­onship game he des­per­ately cov­eted to lead his team in with a torn ACL suf­fered three weeks ear­lier in a re­gional semi­fi­nal win. He nonethe­less got to see his team­mates bring the crown down to Fort Laud­erdale, top­ping Ci­tra North Marion 48-10 on Fri­day evening.

“I didn’t play tonight, but the en­ergy in this place was in­sane,” Scalzo said. “First time in school his­tory. I can’t com­plain. … Life has a bunch of ups and downs. This sea­son has been a bunch of ups and downs – to start off 0-2 and win 12 straight.”

Scalzo, on his crutches, hopped onto the field with his team­mates dur­ing the pregame in­tro­duc­tion, don­ning his Gibbons No. 2 jersey. He joined his fel­low cap­tains at mid­field for the pregame coin toss.

Dur­ing the ac­tion, he stood a safe dis­tance away on a bench to watch the field over his Chiefs on the side­line. Cam­eras fol­lowed his ev­ery move – from the Spec­trum Sports broad­cast, to the Jum­botron and the Net­flix se­ries QB1, which has doc­u­mented Scalzo’s en­tire se­nior sea­son.

As if ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion was needed, team­mates wanted to win it for Scalzo.

“Be­fore the game, I was cry­ing,” star de­fen­sive end Khris Bogle said. “I was like, ‘Nik, I got you. I got you. I got you.’ That’s my brother.”

“This guy right here,” Car­di­nal Gibbons coach Matt DuBuc said grab­bing Scalzo dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion, “in three years, he’s thrown a lot of touch­down passes for our team. To fin­ish this one like we did, it’s awe­some.

“Los­ing Nik was crush­ing to our ego, but I have to tell you, ev­ery­body in that locker room pulled to­gether af­ter that.”

Sopho­more Brody Pal­h­e­gyi threw for a touch­down and ran for an­other. He was 10 of 16 for 138 yards, didn’t throw an in­ter­cep­tion and ran for 48 yards.

“I’ve been train­ing him this whole time. Now I’m fi­nally hand­ing off the reins to let him take over this pro­gram,” Scalzo said. “He’s be­ing a leader. He’s be­ing a field gen­eral. He’s get­ting done what needs to be done.”

Scalzo said ar­riv­ing at the sta­dium Fri­day was the first mo­ment that got to him as he dealt with not play­ing when Pal­heghyi was sig­nal caller for the re­gional fi­nal win over ri­val Amer­i­can Her­itage and state semi­fi­nal vic­tory against Tampa Je­suit.

“This in­jury is not go­ing to de­fine me,” said Scalzo, who will sign with Ken­tucky dur­ing the Early Sign­ing Pe­riod later in De­cem­ber. “I’m go­ing to get past it, and I’m go­ing to be big­ger, faster, stronger.”

For Scalzo, it was still the end­ing he and the mem­bers of his class knew was des­tined for them since their fresh­man year.

“We al­ways said, ‘Se­nior year, that’s when we’re go­ing to win states,’” Scalzo said. “We’re here.”

MICHAEL LAUGH­LIN/SUN SEN­TINEL

In­jured Car­di­nal Gibbons quar­ter­back Nik Scalzo cheers for his team dur­ing its 5A state ti­tle vic­tory Fri­day.

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