RANDOLPH - For most of his midget football experience growing up in Salamanca, Jordon Dowiasz only touched the ball when he snapped it to the quarterback.
Yes, Jordon, all of 5-foot-3 back then, was the team center.
But a funny thing happened in the lead-up to his final season with the Sabres. Not only did he get taller - he had grown 5 inches - but he still was faster than anyone else on the field.
Randolph Central School senior Jordon Dowiasz, seated center, is flanked by his mother, Paula Dowiasz, left, and grandmother Darlene Geaben, as he signs his letter of intent to attend Lake Erie (Ohio) College where he will play football for the Storm this fall. Standing, from the left, are Randolph assistant football coaches Nate Armella and Brent Brown; high school principal Laurie Sanders; Jeff Dowiasz, Jordon’s father; athletic director Robin Maycock; and superintendent Kim Moritz.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
''The coach came to me,'' recalled Paula Dowiasz, Jordon's mother, ''and he said, 'If we can get somebody to play center, we're going to try Jordon running (the ball).'''
The lineup change turned out to be spot-on as Jordon finished his final year of midget football with nearly 1,000 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. A year later, the family moved to Randolph. Five years after that - November 2012 - Jordon and the rest of the Cardinals left the Carrier Dome in Syracuse as New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D champions. For his part, Jordon, who finished the season with 1,829 yards and 29 touchdowns, was named the New York State Sportswriters Association Class D and Post-Journal player of the year.
''Listen,'' said Randolph assistant coach Brent Brown, ''when you've got speed, you can do a lot of things.''
Jordon's speed has apparently caught the interest of the Lake Erie College coaching staff and he has decided to attend the Division II school in Painesville, Ohio. The Storm, who are coming off a 3-8 season, are expected to give Jordon a shot at running back, wide receiver or return man on special teams when he arrives for the start of fall practice in August.
''I think he'll do great at the next level,'' Brown said. ''He'll find out how much work is involved when he gets to college. It's tough, especially in the first couple years. But, you know what? Here's a kid who has been in the weight room for the last two or three years and has put a lot of work in as a high school kid. ... His work ethic is super. When he gets to (Lake Erie College), he'll be able to handle it. He'll be fine. He's going to have fun. He'll love it.''
Jordon's decision to attend the school east of Cleveland came in February after the coaching staff, specifically head coach Mark McNellie, saw a highlight DVD that was produced by Dowiasz family friend Damond Talbot. Two days later, Jordon was invited to the Lake Erie campus for a visit.
''If he would have got more carries when he was younger,'' Brown said, ''he probably would have blossomed like this even as a junior. I think the way things work out here at Randolph, when it was his turn he took the ball and ran with it.''
Lake Erie has only been associated with football since 2006 when it was introduced as a club sport. In 2007, the Storm finished 7-2 against a combination of junior varsity and club competition, in 2008 it began play as a Division II school and in 2009 it finished 7-4. In 2010, Lake Erie joined the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference where it finished 3-8, a record it repeated in both 2011 and 2012.
''(Jordon) might not have the opportunity right out of the gate. He might have to be patient, and he will,'' Brown said. ''When he gets his chance he'll give it everything he's got. We've seen that. It's awesome. We're pumped.''