Austin King has played football since the seventh grade.
Since then he’s become a leader on the defensive and offensive line for Neshannock High football program.
King helped the Lancers defeat Ellwood City Lincoln, 40-21, in a WPIAL Class 2A Midwestern Conference battle on Friday.
“I thought it was a good team win. We faced some adversity early,” King said. “They came out swinging. They played real hard, I have to give it to them. I thought it was a great team win especially with it being Senior Night.”
The Wolverines caused some frustration for Neshannock in the first half of the game.
“Toward the end of the half there was a fumble and I almost got onto it,” King said. “It was nice just to get out of the mess we were in and go into halftime being stress free.”
For his efforts, King was named Lawrence County Athlete of the Week as voted on by the New Castle News sports staff.
“He’s one of those guys that everything he’s done on the field he has earned. He’s worked extremely hard since he came to us as a freshman,” Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio said. “Every year, you just saw him get a little bit better and better and better. He’s continued to that and with that comes along the work ethic that he has developed and grown into. He’s become a great leader for us that way. The younger guys and everybody else on the team, he’s the first one in the weight room, the first one to work out, never misses, never says a word.
“He’s just here working all of the time. It’s great to see him come out his senior year and have some of the success he’s had. It’s been very gratifying to watch his growth from a young boy into a young man.”
A son of Jennifer and Robert King, the senior has always been a lineman since he started playing.
“I never played before seventh grade. When I first played I just said, ‘Hey, coach, where do you want me?’” King recalled. “He wanted me to go with the lineman and since then that’s where I’ve been.”
King also plays on the defensive line.
“I’ve always loved it,” King said on playing as a defensive lineman. “It’s fun to get after the quarterback, get after the running back, whoever has the football, disengage from blocks. It’s just a very fun position.”
King believes Neshannock’s lines have improved throughout the season.
“I think it’s evolved pretty good. Offensively, the pass protection’s been great all year,” King said. “Defensively, I feel like every game we’ve controlled the line of scrimmage. It’s just been a big piece of our defense this year, the defensive line. I thought we’ve been playing really good as a whole.”
What makes a good lineman, according to King?
“Just the mentality you play with every game. It’s important to have size but that’s not everything,” he said. “You saw Peyton Weaver, he played the offensive line for a little bit and he was relentless every play. In my opinion, you have to have a relentless mentality, go out there and just play hard every single play and you’ll be fine.”
Football is the only sport King plays and he is currently getting looked at by Allegheny College, Washington & Jefferson College, Westminster College and Waynesburg University. He hopes to pick a major along the lines of sports management.
“He’s a football guy,” Mozzocio said. “You’re not going to see Austin out there on the diamond or the basketball court. He loves football, he loves the game and it’s a passion for him. He’s worked really hard to get where he is right now.”
Mozzocio prefers King on the defensive line, but noted that he’s always up to any task.
“He’s our guy on the defensive line. Inside we like to have him there. We’ve had some injuries throughout the year and he stepped up,” Mozzocio said. “He started at guard for us, he started at tackle for us, he’s been all over the place. Austin’s the type of guy whatever you ask him to do he’s going to do it for you. If you ask him to try and play quarterback he would try that as well. He’s just a great kid.”
King is one of 14 seniors on Neshannock’s roster.
“I think we’ve had great senior leadership,” Kin said. “Guys like me, Jonny Huff, Luciano DeLillo. Even Peyton (Weaver, who is out for the season with an injury), he’s been a great leader still in the locker room. He’s there for the support and everything. It’s just been a great senior class.”
King believes there are a couple of things that lead to a successful line.
“I think our communication is very good. Our middle linebacker (Patrick Argiro), he’s a very important piece of our defense, calling out the rams and telling us where to go and whatnot. The communication’s been very good all year,” King said. “Communication’s a big thing. Another thing is your work ethic. It can’t be just you. You need all five guys, all four guys or all three guys whatever side of the ball it is you need them all working hard every single play.”
King has imparted an important lesson with Mozzocio.
“One thing that I learned as a young coach from being under Frank Bongivengo Sr. is when guys come up as ninth graders and you look at them sometimes and you think, ‘Where are they going to fit? Maybe they’re not going to fit, maybe they’re not going to get on the field,’” Mozzocio said. “He always told me, ‘Keep working with them, have faith in them, keep teaching them technique, keep preaching,’ and Austin’s a prime example of that. He’s just grown so much from his ninth grade year to where he is now. It’s a great maturation to watch and be apart of. It’s one of the rewarding things of being a coach.”
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