BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WKBN) – There are a lot of outstanding high school quarterbacks in this area, but one that probably hasn’t received as much attention as he deserves is Western Reserve’s, Dom Velasquez.
The six foot three inch, 173-pound senior quarterback has led his Devils to a 4-1 record halfway through the 2017 season and has the Devils on pace to possibly win the first Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference title. The Devils will host Lowellville this Friday as they hope to improve to 3-0 in the league.
Ironically, Dom will see his uncle Doug Velasquez, the head football coach of the Rockets on the opposite sideline Friday night. Both admitted that they don’t talk much about football in the offseason, but will visit following the conclusion of the game.
“We’ll talk after the game. We talked for awhile after the game last year,” Doug Velasquez explained.
Dom is the youngest child of Kevin and Sharon Velasquez. He has an older sister Gia and a brother Tony. Gia is currently in law school while Tony is a teacher in North Carolina.
Dom has not only shown Blue Devil fans how talented he is athletically, but he is also a standout student and community member. In fact, he has received a couple awards for his service.
He received the Yale Bassett Award for community service, one of 20 recipients in the country. It is awarded to the 20 top juniors in the county from Yale University. He also received the Emperor Science Scholar award which is presented to 100 recipients in the country for cancer research which he participated in at Case Western Reserve University.
“He’s a great kid, he’s a 4.0 student,” Blue Devils head coach Andy Hake remarked. “He’s become a real student of the game, he’s really intelligent. I’m not just saying that.”
On the football field, Dom first started playing his sophomore year, seeing limited action in completing 21 of 44 passes for 306 yards with 4 touchdown passes. Last year he split time with Wyatt Larimer while connecting on 69 of 132 passes for 1,219 yards and 20 scores. This year the signal calling duties have fallen squarely on his shoulders, and he has responded with a great start by hitting 56 of 87 passes for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“My sophomore year I didn’t really play that much, a few snaps. Actually, I think I started the Lowellville game. Then my junior year Wyatt and I started to rotate more,” Velasquez confirmed. “My junior year was when I started to get comfortable under center, just with having the experience as a starting quarterback.”
“I felt this year, coming into it I wasn’t as nervous as I was in previous years. I felt a lot more confident,” Velasquez added. “Everything has definitely slowed down for me as far as going through my progressions. Now I’m not as rushed, I have a lot more time to think to see how many guys are in the box, or how many safeties they have.”
Velasquez cited that in the past three years he has improved as a player, “I definitely think my footwork has improved just a ton since my freshman year. I think that has really helped me in being able to go through my progression a little longer. And my short game passing is my thing now and that’s what I live by.”
“He’s had a big progression over his four years,” Hake confirmed. “He started with John Clegg, and he watched Wyatt (Larimer) last year. There were things he couldn’t do, and then there were some things Wyatt couldn’t do. So it was a good combination with each other. He’s just come a long ways as a person with maturing, he’s a mature kid.”
Western Reserve has had a history of outstanding quarterbacks with names like Moherman, Ewing, Allison, Clegg, and Larimer leading them to league championships and playoff appearances. But according to coach Hake, Velasquez has some unique qualities that make him a very special player.
“He’s right there with them,” Hake exclaimed. “He’s one of the better ones that we have had here. He is as good as any one of them in his own way. He has a big arm like Nick Allison, when he drops back he can do anybody in.”
“I want to wear the quarterback position at Western Reserve and I want to do it proud,” Velasquez remarked. “Those guys were such great players and to be even mentioned with their names is just an honor.”
“I think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the state of Ohio,” Hake stated. “Because of his unique abilities. He’s 6-3, he’s a lefty and he releases with a high elbow, and he can put the ball where it needs to be. Analytically, he’s smart. I think he can play college football, but he needs to keep progressing.”
Right now Velasquez is concentrating on his education and not looking ahead in regards to playing college football, “I would like to if hopefully, I got an offer somewhere. I would go play, but my education is my priority right now. Playing football would be a bonus.”
Whatever Dom decides in his future, he has shown the qualities of intelligence and hard work to make him highly successful at whatever he chooses. But for right now, Western Reserve football fans have the pleasure of watching one of the most talented players our area has to offer.