It would not have been unreasonable for Evan Kappatos to say he expected to be named the 2011 Piner Award winner. After taking home the honor given to Nassau County’s top linebacker in each of the past two seasons, it would have certainly been an understandable expectation. But relishing individual praise has never been in the senior linebackers’ nature.
“It’s always a surprise because you always try and be humble,” Kappatos said.
The award marked the first time a player has been given the honor three years in a row, signaling the culmination of a remarkable football career.
“It was the icing on the cake,” Kappatos said of the award. “It was really awesome.”
The linebacker’s success goes deeper than pure talent. A three sport athlete, Kappatos’ work ethic and commitment are virtually unmatched.
“There’s never really a break, never really too much time off,” he said. “That’s what makes it worthwhile. If so much hard work wasn’t put into it, it wouldn’t be worth it.”
This season, Kappatos had 106 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions for the Braves.
But excelling at the linebacker position was only half of Kappatos’ job in 2011. His season took an unexpected turn when top running back Joey Morris got hurt in the second game of the year.
One day during practice, Head coach Paul Rorke came to Kappatos with an idea. How would he feel about playing running back? Even though he had never played the position, the linebacker jumped at the chance.
“We went through a few drills, but it was simply ‘take the handoff and go’," Kappatos said.
The experiment was a success. Watching him handle the ball, opponents would have never guessed that the guy carrying them on his back had never thought about being an offensive difference maker before.
“I had a lot of fun,” Kappatos said with a smile. “I never knew that being the guy running the ball would be just as fun as tackling the guy with the ball.”
Now that football is over, the seniors’ attention turns to more pressing matters, one of which is his college search. He is as serious about tackling his school work as he is opposing running backs. Kappatos is looking to attend an Ivy League school, with the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton being his top choices.
“I always try to challenge myself,” he said. “For every year of school, I’ve always been in [Advanced Placement] and honors classes. Academics first, that’s what my parents have always said. You [have] to challenge yourself in the classroom.”
According to Kappatos, AP Biology is his hardest class.
Three Piner awards may sit side by side in his trophy case, but Kappatos says his work is far from over. Among his goals for the rest of his high school career is to win the wrestling county championship and prepare for the switch to college life.
“I’ll be ready when I go there,” he said.
And after all he’s accomplished, who would doubt him?