July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Devils’ Ficyk has big arm, brain

Football enjoyment isn’t measured in yards for Steven Ficyk. It’s not a game about points, punts and penalties. Instead, the
6-foot-4, 215-pound senior would rather talk about kings, queens, rooks and pawns.
A returning starter who led Brunswick to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009, the senior would rather talk about the game within the game.
“That’s my favorite part of football — going into the mind of a defensive coordinator and knowing what they’re going to do and where exactly to attack them,” Ficyk said. “The chess game of football is what I love.”
Ficyk attacked those defensive coordinators last season to the tune of 1,665 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Blue Devils posted a 6-5 record before bowing in Week 11 to eventual Division I state runner-up Mentor.
Having played against the Cardinals twice last season, Ficyk also picked up a big fan in Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno. The veteran knows a little bit about quarterbacks with two Mr. Football signal callers in Bart Tanski (2007) and Mitch Trubisky (2012) during his tenure.
Last season, Conner Krizancic broke several D-I state championship records, so the position is a thing of expertise for Trivisonno, who didn’t shy away from his feelings for Ficyk.
“He’s got all the tools,” Trivisonno said. “When you look at him, he’s got the arm strength. He throws sharp balls and he runs pretty well.
“He’s got the things you’re looking for to make a very good quarterback. That’s hard to find. We’ve been lucky we had a few of them at Mentor, but they don’t come around as often as people think.”
Ficyk has come around largely because he’s been around the game his entire life. The son of a former Brunswick quarterback — Steve, who graduated in 1978 — Ficyk has learned the game largely because of his dad.
While others jumped on the trampoline or hit the books after youth practices and games, Ficyk was breaking down film and learning the other half of the game.
“He’s been my mentor my whole life,” Ficyk said of his dad. “Since I was 6 or 7, I haven’t been able to watch a game without telling him what coverage the defense is in. We had a tire in the backyard, and I was working on drops and throwing the ball through the tire. It helped me tremendously.
“When I got to high school, we were learning things he taught me in fifth or sixth grade. When I’m on the sideline on a Friday night, I can almost hear him in my head telling me what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right.”
The sideline has been a refuge for Ficyk. He was there in 2007 when Sean Bedevelsky led the Blue Devils to a state semifinal berth and he was there watching Anthony Lanzara become a Gazette MVP in 2005.
Ficyk knows the legacy and the responsibility quarterbacks have at Brunswick. It’s something he doesn’t shy away from.
“It’s more fun knowing you have to live up to them,” he said. “Being compared to Lanzara and Bedevelsky, it’s a challenge but it’s fun at the same time. I was a ball boy for them when they were here. Seeing the way they acted on the sideline helped me get to where I am now.”
Where he is now is even better than where he was last season. He’s the marked man of the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division and he’s expected to push Brunswick farther.
Ficyk hit the college recruiting circuit over the summer and has an offer from D-II Hillsdale (Mich.) and interest from Eastern Michigan, Akron and Cincinnati. He also has the confidence of everyone on the team.
“Steven grows incredibly every day,” Blue Devils tight end Ethan Engelke said. “Knowing he’s going to get you the ball and he’s going to put it only where you can get it is awesome. It’s not about running the route. If you can get open, he’s going to get it there. It’s more a confidence thing.”
Where he ends up in Brunswick lore really depends on Ficyk.
“Physically he’s made huge improvements,” Blue Devils coach Luke Beal said. “His feet are a whole lot better. He’s bigger, he’s smarter. He’s got a great arm. Combine that with him being a returning starter and we’re expecting big things.
“From a maturity standpoint, from a confidence standpoint, he’s much farther along than he was a year ago. He wants to be in that company of the great Brunswick quarterbacks. He wants to be the next quarterback in that tradition of really good quarterbacks. He wants to be the quarterback that everyone is talking about 10 years from now.”
Contact Brad Bournival at (330) 721-4061
or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.