OPC: Team West Varsity DE Zarubiak’s versatility may prove beneficial

The countdown begins to CanadaFootballChat.com Ontario Prospect Challenge on the May 1st weekend.  In the days leading up to OPC, CFC will preview the teams, coaches and players participating in the big event.

Versatility has been Blake Zarubiak’s strong suit on the gridiron.

“Throughout my football career I’ve been thrown into many different positions,” elaborated the 6’1 ½, 237 pound defensive end.  “To me, it’s important that you remain versatile and open to change in your career because you always have to do what benefits the team.”

“I remain versatile by no matter what position I’m thrown into I give it my all and I don’t quit until my assignment is completed to my fullest potential.”

Zarubiak has demonstrated his versatility throughout his gridiron career.  Among the teams he has played for are Niagara Spears of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL), Niagara Storm of the Ontario Football Conference (OFC) as well as both Holy Cross Raiders and St Francis Raiders of the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association (NRHSAA).  Furthermore, the defensive standout has previously suited up for house league team in the Niagara Region Minor Football Association (NRMFA).

While he chose to play on the defensive line, his passion for playing it has developed over time.

“I like the amount of physical contact that the position entails,” explained Zarubiak.  “.  It’s important to be able to play all positions across the defensive line.  “

“One game you may think you’re going to be working a 3 tech (interior line) but depending on what team your facing of whose injured you may be at the nose tackle or working one of the end positions. The main reason why I chose to play defensive line is because the trenches are where it’s at. The line is the most physical part of football and can be considered the most crucial.   Being on the defensive line you have a huge job to do and for me having that kind of responsibility allows me to feel like I’m contributing to the team.”

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Throughout his career, the defensive end has been influenced by a few professional and amateur gridiron stars.

“Professionally, I look up to players like John Chick (Saskatchewan Roughriders) and JJ Watt (Houston Texans),” said Zarubiak.  “Amateur wise, it would be Lucas Brennan (Guelph Gryphon commit) and Neville Gallimore (CFC # 1 CLASS 2015 – Oklahoma Sooners).”

Under Friday Night Lights at Kiwanis Field in St. Catharines, the defensive end will compete in the Ontario Prospect Challenge game as a member of Team West’s varsity squad who will battle Team Halton Peel.

“As soon as I heard about the OPC tryouts, I asked my mom if I could do it,” recalled Zarubiak of his introduction to OPC.  “Although it may sound clear cut, it wasn’t.”

“I had to figure out rides to the various tryouts that happened all over Ontario along with finding a way to borrow equipment form either my high school or local club.”

Even though the OPC process has been a roller coaster for Zarubiak, he said that it has been a rewarding yet invaluable experience in big part to the instruction he’s received so far from the coaching staff as well as fellow players that are participating in the event.

“The OPC experience has been a great one,” reflected the Team West defensive end.  “I’ve learned a lot of new things that I’m able to add to my tool box along with being able to be introduced to a bunch of great and hardworking players.”

“Working with the OPC coaches has been a phenomenal experience.  I’ve learned a lot of new things. These coaches are good to work with because you can tell that they genuinely want to make you better and see you succeed with your career. Coaches like Michael Solanki [Team West Head Coach] have really enabled me to succeed not only throughout my career but throughout the OPC.

With the opportunity to play in a major event, Zarubiak is not letting the pressure get to him.

“I’m going to handle the pressure by going out and treating OPC like any other game,” offered Zarubiak. “The game its self is going to be a war but me personally I’m going to make sure I win every battle.”

“Whoever decides to be across from me I’m going to make sure I beat.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my career is that if you let anything or anyone intimidate you, you’re already beat mentally. So I’ve learned to get around that and not let myself become intimidated.”

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To ensure he is ready come game day, the Team West defensive standout has been taking measures to prepare for the event.

“I’ve been attending preseason training with my club along with hitting the gym four to six days a weeks and doing football oriented drills in my backyard with tires ladders and cones on my own time,” described Zarubiak of his pre OPC workout regimen.

This weekend, the Team West defensive end is welcoming the opportunity to play with and play against certain fellow OPC participants.

“The players that I’m looking forward to competing with would be Jake Richardson, offensive lineman Josh Mosley and Alessandro Krick,” commented Zarubiak.  “As far as competing against, I’m excited to face any opponent.”

Set to enter a post-secondary institution in 2016, the defensive standout is currently considering a number of options including three OUA schools that have expressed interest in him – McMaster, Carleton and Guelph.

As the OPC is an avenue for players to make a favourable impression and standout while recruiters will be looking on, Zarubiak would like to accomplish a couple of key objectives.

“My personal goals for OPC are to complete my assignment to my fullest potential and exceed the expectations of the coaches,” said Zarubiak.  “My team goals for OPC are to not only win, but by the first quarter jell as a team along with working as one unit.”

Not only does he have specific OPC goals, but he has set his sights on a long-term target. Ultimately, the Team West standout hopes that his participation in OPC will get him one step closer to realizing it.

“As a defensive end, I would want to be able to take my football career to the next level of football,” expressed Zarubiak. “Stats wise, I would want to achieve a minimum of two sacks a game, four solo tackles and while at the same time never giving up contain.”

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  1. Pingback: 2015 OPC: Schedule, Previews, Scores and more… | CanadaFootballChat.com

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