Gary Acquah knows exactly what the majority of his Mount St. Michael teammates are going through. The three-year varsity player understands what the transition to a major role on the is like and that there are growing pains you go through and learn from.
Acquah, who also plays basketball at the school, is the perfect mentor for a team that will ask a large number of juniors and inexperienced seniors to step into starting roles after a 4-8 season. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior plays fullback, linebacker and defensive tackle and is the leader on both sides of the ball. Acquah is being recruited by Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn, and said the schools are eager to see film from his first two games.
“A lot of kids feed off him and take his lead and work ethic,” coach Mario Valentini said.
He will be the featured back in the team’s option offense and has the perfect complement in speedy Tarik Hawkins. The junior played on the varsity last season and should keep defenses honest. Senior Eddie Cox is an explosive kick returner and running back who also plays defensive back.
The thought of having those two in the backfield brings a smile to the face of 6-foot-1 junior quarterback Jaylen Amaker, who was a cornerback and the back up to Max Otano last season. Amaker is a superb athlete who also plays basketball and baseball at the school and has looked comfortable in his new role. There is still the question whether Amaker will play both ways after he is officially tabbed the starting QB. It’s something he is open to.
Mount’s biggest loss comes on their defensive line with the absence of tackle Caraun Reid, who was one the best in the city and will play at Princeton this season. Only senior Marcus Armorer, who started at times last season, returns to the offensive line. The entire defensive front was lost to graduation.
Senior Randy Samuels will return at defensive back, but Acquah, a special combination of speed and power, will still be the defense’s star.
“If I was on the other team, I definitely would be scared of him,” Amaker said.
To his team, he is a welcome face and mentor.
“He is a real good leader,” Amaker said. “When I first came up to varsity last year he was one of the first people to tell me what it’s like. a He makes things a lot easier.”