Friday Night Hero: Stephen Mazur
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY - It wasn't much longer than an extra point.
Yet the 20-yard field goal that stood between Salisbury kicker Stephen Mazur and immortality with 4.6 seconds left was the most important boot of the young man's life. Mazur had a point to make.
Actually three points.
"I never really thought it would come down to that," Mazur said. "It's hard to believe."
Mazur made three important kicks in the final quarter of the Hornets' 36-35 win against High Point Andrews last Friday to send them to the 2AA West final against South Iredell. The late field goal gave Salisbury its first lead after trailing by margins of 21-0 and 35-14.
"I was a little nervous but I was in the moment really," Mazur said. "It didn't seem that bad.."
On a field with a dozen sensational athletes of towering heights and weights, the 5-foot-8, 135-pound sophomore's right foot had the biggest influence on the comeback. Mazur kicked a pair of onside kicks, one surprise and one planned, in addition to the game-winner. Tony Krider and Quan Davis recovered the attempts to give the Hornets the needed possessions to come back from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit.
"We can ask him to do so many things," Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. "He works diligently on his onside kicks, on placement kicks, kicking angles and it paid off the other night. He made a tough-angle kick."
Brian Bauk's touchdown run made it 35-20 with 11:24 to play when the Hornets needed Mazur to pull off a surprise onside kick. Down two scores in the final quarter meant Salisbury needed to steal a possession. The Hornets lied up in their normal kickoff formation.
"On that I have to take normal steps and hit the top of the ball," Mazur. "They don't know you're doing it,"
After bouncing off an Andrews player, Krider was there to recover it.
"You have to do that when they're not looking for it obviously," Pinyan said. "You ask yourself, if we're in their shoes would we expect it?"
After Bauk provided more heroics with a 45-yard touchdown pass, Pinyan called for a conventional onside kick. Mazur kicked it with enough spin to bounce off another Andrews player and into the grasp of Davis. Two successful onside kicks in the same game is rare enough, let alone the same quarter.
Salisbury took over at the Andrews 38 with 1:44 left. Justin Ruffin got around the edge and went down at the 6 and the Hornets called their final timeout. The boot would come at a harsh angle, all the way over on the left hashmark. The snap was good. The hold was true. The kick was right down the middle.
"On the left hash, you have to take your steps different," Mazur said. "On the left, you get more steps in. From close in, I didn't really like that because they rush pretty quick."
He was carried off the field after the win. After the game was on his shoulders, he was on his teammates' shoulders leaving the field.
After the win, brother Michael Mazur called to give his congratulations. It was a performance that Michael, last year's varsity kicker, was proud of.
"My favorite congrats was from my family," Mazur said. "I like to make them proud of me."