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PREP FOOTBALL 2000 / CENTURY LEAGUE

Lancisero Cuts Opponents Down to Size

El Modena linebacker is smaller than most at 5-9, 190 pounds, but he's fought to become one of the league's best defensive players.

September 01, 2000|MICHAEL ITAGAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The skinny on El Modena's Adam Lancisero is that he's one of the Century League's finest players, along with Villa Park's Bryan Arguello, last year's league MVP.

A returning first-team all-league selection, Lancisero is among the league's best defensive players. But at 5 feet 9 and 190 pounds, he's hardly a physically imposing linebacker.

And he started out scrawnier.

Three years ago, Lancisero was a wiry freshman in his first spring practices. One day he got ready for what was supposed to be a non-contact drill.

Then he ran into 6-1, 260-pound lineman Alex Solorio . . . literally.

"Adam was about 140 pounds back then," El Modena Coach Jason Hitchens said. "And in this one drill, I saw Alex, who turned around and just launched Adam. He was a projectile."

When Lancisero landed, he had a broken wrist.

"I was in a cast for two months," Lancisero said.

"I still practiced and I got used to wearing the cast. I just lifted [weights] with one hand, caught passes with one hand. In fact, it helped my pass catching."

Hitchens noticed Lancisero's drive and says that's what sets him apart from most players. That determination, coupled with hard work in the weight room over the past three years, has helped Lancisero add muscle and maturity.

And now Lancisero is entering his third year as a defensive starter for the Vanguards. He also figures to make an impact at running back this season.

"A lot of things Adam has accomplished because he has that intrinsic motivation to drive him past others that may be more talented," Hitchens said. "He's gotten there through hard work and commitment. The rest of the kids rally around him."

The Vanguards are fired up for a potential breakthrough, although Hitchens cautions that El Modena is coming off a 1-9 season and could be a year away from making a serious league-title challenge.

But Lancisero doesn't want to wait.

"Sure we were 1-9 last season," he said. "But we're working hard on the weights and I think we're 10 times stronger than last year.

"In past years, guys on our team were getting in arguments, there were fights with each other, there were groups. We're more together this season. The intensity's been up. If we get off to a good start, who knows?"

Hitchens knows Lancisero will be a key to the Vanguards' success this season.

"He might be, pound for pound, the strongest kid I've ever coached," Hitchens said. "He bench presses 340 pounds, power cleans 300, squats 475.

"He has good instincts and those intangibles that you can't teach a kid."

Lancisero had to learn a new position at linebacker after starting in the secondary as a sophomore.

"Anywhere else and he'd still probably be playing strong safety," Hitchens said. "We can get away with putting him at middle linebacker because he's physical and strong enough to play there at the high school level.

"He runs a 4.7 40 [-yard dash] and he can slide out and cover. He does a lot of things very well. I could probably put him at nose guard and he would excel."

Lancisero just wants to keep playing.

"I've always had to go up against bigger guys and I like that," Lancisero said. "I was the guy who would run downfield and try to break through the wedge. I just love the game so much, I might as well do it for as long as I can."

Because of his size, playing major college football is a long shot for Lancisero. Hitchens said Lancisero could likely end up playing at a community college before more four-year schools would take notice.

"I know for college it's a numbers game," Hitchens said. "Recruiters like [6-4, 290-pound El Modena lineman] Jeff Rowe a lot more for his size and potential. But Adam is still getting looks from Division I-AA and Division II schools.

"At this point, Adam's a better player than Jeff. Adam may stick somewhere. He's one heck of a football player."

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