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BETWEEN THE LINES

He's Paraclete's Small Wonder

September 26, 1997

The laughter and snide remarks begin early in most games. But few of Michael Lodovici's opponents are smiling when the final gun sounds.

That's because Lodovici, a senior nose guard at Paraclete High (2-0), is a catalyst for one of the region's best defenses and a load to handle--even at 5 feet 6 and 186 pounds.

"The nose guard's usually the biggest guy on the team, so there's always comments made about what's this guy doing out here," Lodovici said. "I just try to shut them up."

Lodovici, the Spirits' bench-press champion with a lift of 320 pounds, takes ribbing from his teammates as well.

Bolstered by the presence of defensive ends Josh Foster (6-7, 240) and Peter Cich (6-5, 240), Lodovici trades barbs with the twin towers, particularly Foster.

"I call [Foster] Pencil Boy and he calls me Midget," Lodovici said. "But the whole defensive line works together to keep [opponents] off the linebackers."

Lodovici is responsible for plugging two gaps in the offensive line.

His ability to draw double-team blocking is crucial to the success of Paraclete's five-man front.

"I don't know how [Lodovici] does it with those little legs and his sausage fingers, but somehow he splits guys and makes the tackle," Foster said.

Lodovici is a two-year starter and started part time as a sophomore.

As a freshman fullback, he earned the nickname "Choo-Choo" for his powerful running and proximity to the turf.

He is a favorite of Paraclete Coach Steve Hagerty, whose team is seeking a second consecutive High Desert League title and a Southern Section Division XI championship.

"Michael's quick enough and strong enough to make plays in the backfield, even if he's up over a 300-pound guy," Hagerty said. "He slips in under pulling guards, he knocks down screen passes and it's tough to block him because he's not a big target."

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