The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

March 11, 2014

‘Loftus’ goal reached!

Lakeside star fulfills dream as he will head to Wagner in fall

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Lakeside quarterback Tyler Loftus always dreamed of playing Division I college football.

When the Dragons brought in Frank Hall to take over a program that had won just two games over the past two years, many people were excited for what he could do for Lakeside.

However, when Loftus heard Hall ran a wing-T offense he had reservations.

“At first, I was a little nervous,” he said. “When I heard Coach Hall got the job, (tight end) Nick (Meola) and I heard he ran the wing-T so we got nervous. We thought we weren’t gonna throw the ball at all and were concerned it could effect us getting looks for college.”

That, it turned out, wasn’t the case.

“He was really flexible,” Loftus said. “He wanted to run the ball but realized we were just too young up front to do that and when we started to throw it was when we were most successful on offense.”

And after Hall helped Loftus showcase his talents during the 2013 season, the quarterback will get to realize his dream when he suits up for Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. next year.

Loftus said there are a lot of positives about taking his talents to Wagner.

“The coaches were really great and I really like the area, it’s really a great place,” he said. “When I visited the campus I just thought it was the place I wanted to be at.”

It didn’t hurt that program plays at the level Loftus dreaming of playing on and that they’ve done so successfully.

The Seahawks are members of the NEC in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision and made a run to the playoffs two years ago.

“Two years ago, they’re in the playoffs and actually won a playoff game,” he said. “So it’s a good program. That was definitely another big positive because it was definitely my dream to play at that level.”

Loftus said when he was younger he and his friends joked about playing college football, but after years of hard work, it became an attainable goal.

“At first, a lot of my friends and I joked about what it would be like,” he said. “But with all the hard work we put in, it started to become reality. There were a few schools that’s recruited me, some things fell through that I didn’t think would happen and Wagner gave me a really great package. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Hall’s arrival turned out to not only be a positive for Loftus, but for the Dragons overall.

Lakeside won its season opener and got off to a 2-1 start after defeating Jefferson at home.

It also won its first Premier Athletic conference game in three seasons.

While Loftus said it was a great season, there were still some disappointing moments.

“At first, it was a really fun year, but it was also a little frustrating because we had such high expectations and the biggest problem was we didn’t finish against Riverside and Univeristy (School),” he said. “We kind of blew it and ended up losing those games, so it was really frustrating.

“But out of all of my years, this is most fun I had. We really bonded as a team. Coach Hall really brought us together and that’s why we were so much more successful.”

Although they didn’t accomplish all the team goals they wanted, Loftus said it was good to be part of a senior class that he feels helped set the table for an improved Lakeside program in the future.

“It’s actually great because Coach Hall is getting it in the right direction and it was great to be part of a class to help lay down the foundation,” he said. “I have a younger brother (Spencer), who will be a freshman next year, so I’ll get to see it grow over the next four years.

“It’s an amazing feeling because it was hard and we struggled but we set the foundation for what’s ahead.”

While many quarterbacks have to make a position change when they get to college, particularly at the Division I level, that isn’t the case with Loftus.

Some schools looked at him on defense or other positions, but the Seahawks plan to keep him under center.

“They want me to play quarterback and that’s the goal, unless I were to get there and they don’t see me getting on the field at all, but they see me starting at quarterback in the future,” he said. “Other schools wanted me to play defense, which I didn’t mind, but I’ve been playing quarterback my whole life and am excited to stay there.”

Wagner’s quarterback situation also looks to be conducive for Loftus getting time in the future.

“It’s a great position for me to be in because they have two senior quarterbacks and they’re bringing in another freshman, so we’ll have a shot to get the job as sophomores,” he said. “It’s a great feeling because a couple of schools I looked at, they had around 10-15 quarterbacks and it’s just kind of ridiculous. It wouldn’t come down to who was the best player was but favoritism or other things.

“(At Wagner), I’ll have a year to learn and after that I’ll compete for the job. That’s just a great situation to be in.”

The quarterback said there were a few moments he’ll look back on as his favorites while at Lakeside.

“There’s definitely a few, like this year when we played Jefferson and won, all the fans storming the field, that was great,” he said. “Probably the most memorable was my junior year, though. We were predicted to get blown out by Howland. We were right there through the fourth quarter, it was frustrating we lost the game but it showed how much potential we had.

“It was a lot like the Riverside game this year. We didn’t finish the game, but we were right there competing with them (the Beavers qualified for the state playoffs).”

Loftus won’t be playing any sports in the spring as he said he’ll be spending the spring and summer throwing and lifting to get ready for the upcoming season.

At Wagner, he plans to be a pre-law major, something that made the scchool an even bigger attraction.

“I would love to get into coaching, but that can be a really hard thing to do,” he said. “So while at Wagner, I’ll doing a lot of internships with law firms in New York and with the NYPD so if I don’t end up getting into coaching I can join the NYPD or go to law school.

“That was one of the best things about Wagner was their internship programs.”

The son of Scott and Gail Loftus said he had to thank his parents coaches and God for all his success on the grind iron.

“I really have to thank God for everything and all the opportunities He’s blessed me with. He’s definitely the most important,” he said. “My parents have helped me a ton. They brought me to camps and all the functions I needed. They came on all the recruiting visits with me and really supported me. My dad knew it was my dream to play in college and he thought I was capable and both my parents really worked to make that possible.

“I’ve had great coaches all the way through my career. A few coaches that really me was my quarterback coach this year, Olajwuan Cooper. He really improved me. Coach Hall really helped me and shaped me into the man I am.

“Also I had a private throwing coach this year, Ron Sink, who was really helpful.”

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