Kapanek seeks rushing mark in Bearsí turnaround season Oct 18, 2001

Matt Kapanek

In 2000, JFK watched many close games slip away and despite not losing any game by more than 14 points, the Bears struggled through the campaign with a 2-7 mark. In the off-season, Bears head coach Colin Brinson put an emphasis on the weight room with the goal that his team use increased stamina to pull out close games. "Everyone got in the weight room," said running back Matt Kapanek, adding the players have been "working real hard" to increase their strength.

So far Brinsonís wishes have come true and his team started the season with a 5-1 record. Leading the resurgence this season is Kapanek. "Heís been great," said Brinson. "Heís been a great compliment to Rayshawn Bolden as a running threat." "Weíre in a lot better shape than we were last year," added Kapanek.

This season the Bears have been able to win many of the similar type close games they lost a season ago. With two games remaining in the regular season, the program that lost seven games a season ago has the opportunity to make the postseason. A large reason for that is Kapanek, who has 883 yards on 103 carries and 10 touchdowns this season. That averages to about 147 yards rushing a game and 8.6 yards per carry.

If he keeps up his current pace he should finish the regular season with just under 1,200 yards rushing. He said one of his personal goals this season is to break the school rushing record

The record is currently held by Chuck Goettle with over 1,300 yards. According to Kapanek, he would give up any shot at breaking the record if the Bears make the playoffs and earn a trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Right now he is focused on Saturdayís game with Cleve Hill. "That win would be huge," said Kapanek. "Basically the winner of this game is going to make the playoffs." According to Kapanek, before JFK can contemplate the postseason, his frame of mind is "wanting to beat the Hill."

Kapanek said after a difficult season a year ago, the Bears lockerroom is "pretty upbeat." As a senior, he wanted to finish off his final campaign on a positive note. "We wanted to have a winning season and make the playoffs," noted Kapanek.

Though the Bears are 5-1, Kapanek said he is only satisfied with the season "to a point." "We need to put together a full game," he added.

Kapanek said the team has had breakdowns in every area at different times and feels his team is fortunate they were able to overcome mistakes and that "hasnít cost us a game."

However, he also feels his team is talented and believes if the Bears put all the pieces in place, the only team that can beat JFK is JFK. Kapanek said the teamís defense and linemen are strong, so if the Bears can continue to build upon that, JFK can make noise come playoff time. According to Kapanek, his most memorable games are not the ones where he picks up a lot of yards in lopsided wins.

He feels his best games are when his biggest contributions come at critical points in the game. "They were the ones where the rushing performance was most key," noted Kapanek. He cited wins over Maryvale and Gowanda as his most memorable.

Kapanek ran for 130 yards in the season opening win over Maryvale. He picked up 83 of those yards on a first quarter touchdown run. In a 21-12 win over Gowanda in week 2, Kapanek finished the game with 160 yards and three touchdowns, including a 79-yard scamper in the first quarter. His best rushing performance of the season was a 243 yard, two touchdown effort against Akron September 29 in the Bears 27-7 win.

The Bears only loss of the season came against Eden and Kapanek would like the Bears to have a second chance against the Raiders in the postseason. Kapanek describes his style of running as "more of a cutting, hit the hole runner."

According to Kapanek, "strength and speed" are the two areas he has improved most upon this season. As the regular draws to a close, Kapanek said he would like to "see us finish strong and make a run in the playoffs."