Tag Archives: National Football League

Holy Cross High School sophomore moves closer to NFL dream


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One Holy Cross High School football player is one step closer to playing in the National Football League (NFL).

Sophomore Jason Vargas was selected to participate in the high school showcase game of the Offense-Defense Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 4.

Vargas, 15, was one of 200 players selected from approximately 6,000 participants in Offense-Defense Sports’ nation-wide camps. Active NFL players Dez Bryant, Cam Newton and more than 185 others once played there as well.

“It’s a great honor to play,” Vargas said. “To be able to play in that kind of game, it’s amazing.”

Vargas started playing football with his older brothers and family members and fell in love with the game at an early age.

Now the high schooler, who is 6’1”, is playing on Holy Cross’s junior varsity team and expects to make the varsity squad next year. While Vargas aims to be a professional wide receiver in the NFL, he also enjoys playing the kicker position.

“Kicker is very important, because it comes down to you sometimes,” Vargas said.

While playing at Offense-Defense’s camp during the summer, he performed so well that he received an MVP medal for wide receiver and the All-Star game invitation.

“Every year his game has elevated that tells me he is listening to what the coaches have been telling him,” said Milow Weems, youth brand director and coach of Offense-Defense, who trained Vargas during summer camp. “I see him playing Division 1 [college football], if he keeps up the hard work.”

Vargas’ final goal of course is to be a professional player, but first he has his eyes set on playing football in college.

He is interested in playing for the University of Oregon, West Virginia University, Florida State University or Boise State University.

“From what I’ve been told he has the ability to take it all the way, but we’re focused on scholarships. We have to focus on the short term,” said Laurie Morris, Vargas’ mother. “I’m proud of Jason because no matter what he always tries his hardest, even when he’s hurt or injured.”

 

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South Ozone Park college student shoots for NFL


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Stockton Photo

David Lopez wants one particular job when he graduates college this spring: playing in the National Football League.

“I like the aggression of the game,” he said. “I love the game. I was never afraid to hit, it’s fun.”

Lopez, of South Ozone Park, has been working on getting himself drafted, or signed, after finishing up his collegiate career as a safety for Pace University. Because the school does not have a draft day for professional scouts, Lopez has faced an uphill run to the endzone.

He came to Pace after playing running back at Christ the King High School, a team that made it to its league’s championship during his final year. When Lopez, now 22, arrived at Pace, however, he was the young guy on a team of seasoned veterans. In order to gain some experience and retrain for a new position, Lopez opted to red-shirt his freshman year — essentially benching himself.

“The first year I was completely clueless to the schemes,” Lopez said of adjusting to college gridiron life. “I learned from the older guys. The older guys taught me a lot.”

Lopez was ready to go the following year and said it was astounding to take the field for the first time. Although Pace lost its first game, Lopez found his groove and took off.

“Two plays in I got a big hit and it was all smooth from there,” Lopez said.

Tragedy struck the team during Lopez’s tenure, however, and soon after he was forced into a leadership position.

In late 2010, Lopez’s teammate, D.J. Henry, was shot by police in Westchester as he drove away from an altercation outside a bar. As a result, some players were deemed ineligible to play, and others decided to transfer out.

“It took a lot out of us as a team,” he said. “The last two years at Pace, I was one of the older guys with a bunch of 17- and 18-year-old kids.”

Suddenly Lopez, intimidated by the veterans two years earlier, found himself propelled into a leadership role. As a captain who still felt like he was 18, Lopez was now mentoring new players both on and off the field.

Ideally, Lopez says he’d like to play safety for his favorite team, the New York Jets, but getting into the league is his top priority right now. To get himself into big-league shape, he’s been training with former Miami Dolphin and Christ the King alum Willie Poole and teammates from Pace.

One fundamental he’s taken from his mentors is that he is gunning for a job that hundreds, if not thousands, of others are vying for throughout the country. His next step is to make it to a pro-day either at Fordham University or Stony Brook University. The challenge there, Lopez said, is getting the schools to allow him to try out, as players from the home school would obviously get preference.

Under Poole’s leadership, Lopez has learned a new physical and mental aspect to football:

“He’s turned it up a notch on us, but it pays off,” Lopez said of Poole’s training. “He pushes us to stay perfect.”

Poole, who’s trained Lopez for a little more than a month now, said his protégé is conscious of the struggle he faces coming from such a small school. Despite this, Poole said Lopez is a true football player with strong skills and even stronger determination.

“I can honestly say that I really, truly believe that he is a better talent than the school he went to,” Poole said. “He works tremendously hard…he wants to get better.

“The bottom line is the kid can play football,” he added. “This kid is a football player.”

 

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This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mets Owners Sell Team Shares Following $162M Settlement With Madoff Victims’ Trustee

Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz last week sold 12 minority stakes in the troubled franchise worth $240 million, using the proceeds to pay off Major League Baseball and reduce the team’s crippling debt, The Post has learned. With the moves, the team now has breathing room with its lenders and — combined with yesterday’s Picard settlement — appears to have saved the franchise. Read More: NY1

 

Mets owners could actually make money in Madoff settlement

It’s the biggest win for the Mets since 1986 — but a huge letdown for the fans. The team’s stingy owners will remain at the helm after striking a sweetheart settlement with the lawyer tasked with recouping billions from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme — and the deal actually casts them as victims of the fraud. The deal heads off a risky jury trial, where a loss could have cost owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz up to $383 million and control of the franchise. Read More: New York Post

 

Rangers edge Devils, clinch playoff spot in East

Brandon Dubinsky scored shortly after a fight-filled opening faceoff, and the Rangers became the first Eastern Conference team to earn a playoff spot by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Monday night. Three fights broke out at the outset and that seemed to jump-start the Rangers, who had lost two straight and five of seven as their once commanding lead in the East dwindled to almost nothing. Read More: New York Post

 

Trayvon Martin shooting: Feds to investigate killing of unarmed black teen by Florida neighborhood watch captain

The growing national attention – and outcry – over the case of an unarmed black teen in Florida who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain has culminated with the federal government’s announcement that it will launch an investigation. The announcement late Monday by the Justice Department followed a day of protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, 28, who claims he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense during a confrontation in a gated community. Read More: Daily News

 

Cops nab burglary suspect — but hunt for ‘Vaseline Bandit’ continues

Police who were already hunting for a burglar who has brazenly pulled off 14 apartment break-ins in Upper Manhattan — using Vaseline to block door peepholes — captured another apartment thief re-handed, casually watching TV, in the middle of a heist tonight. But law enforcement sources said the 20-something perp is not the so-called Vaseline Bandit, who is in his 50s. Read More: New York Post

 

Government may make it easier for airlines to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings

The government is taking a tentative step toward making it easier for airlines to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers and music players during takeoffs and landings. The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is “exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved” – including airlines, aircraft manufacturers, consumer electronics makers, and flight attendant unions – to discuss whether there are practical ways to test devices to see if they are safe for passengers to use during critical phases of flight. Read More: Daily News

 

Peyton Manning finalizing contract with Broncos

All that’s needed is Peyton Manning’s autograph. After being pursued by teams around the NFL, the QB with four MVP awards is headed to the land of John Elway and Tim Tebow, agreeing to a contract with Denver that could make the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender. It could also send one of the NFL’s most intriguing young players packing. So much for Tebowmania. Manning called Elway on Monday morning and told the Broncos executive that he had chosen Denver over the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers in the wildest free-agent chase of the offseason. Read More: Yahoo Sports

 

3 wounded in Harlem shooting

A gunman shot three men across from a Harlem playground this afternoon, police said. The unknown assailant blasted his victims in front of a deli across from the St. Nicholas Playground on West 129th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue about 2:30 p.m., cops said. A 30-year-old man was wounded in the left hand and leg, a 25-year-old was shot in the left leg, and a 23-year-old was wounded in the butt, authorities said. Read More: New York Post

 

NYPD Ups Security In Wake Of Jewish School Shooting In France

The NYPD yesterday deployed hundreds of cops to synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods citywide after a gunman fatally shot three kids and a rabbi at a Jewish school in France. “Obviously, we’re concerned about what happened in Toulouse,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said of the shooting. Read More: NY1

 

Jail guard shot

An off-duty Rikers correction officer was shot by her boyfriend last night outside a Queens diner, police sources said. The woman was hit in the stomach near the USA Diner on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton at 10:50 p.m., cops said. The shooter fled. It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the fight. Read More: New York Post

 

‘Gangster’ sought in groom slay

They picked the wrong guy to push around. The Staten Island restaurant worker reportedly thrown to the ground by groom-to-be Anthony Lacertosa and his boozing buddies was purported Albanian gangster Redinel Dervishaj, who then allegedly killed Lacertosa with a butcher knife. Investigators believe Dervishaj, 35, has since fled the city, a law-enforcement source said. Read More: New York Post

 

‘Mad Men’ star Jon Hamm sticks to his guns in calling Kim Kardashian an ‘idiot’

Square-jawed “Mad Men” actor Jon Hamm is sick of your stupid shtick. Channeling his straight-shooting character Don Draper,  Hamm put Kim Kardashian in her place Monday, dissing the curvaceous celebutard yet again. NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer asked the AMC retro-series actor to clarify the earlier comments he made to Elle UK about Kardashian being a famous-for-being-famous “idiot,” which the reality starlet called “careless.” Read More: Daily News