Getsy looks to mirror Frye’s success

Deanna Stevens

Admid a snow storm, Kent State defensive back Usama Young (18) tackles Akron running back Brett Biggs during last year’s Battle for the Wagon Wheel on Thanksgiving Day. The Flashes will seek revenge for the 35-3 loss at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Dix Stadium. DAV

Credit: John Proppe

Three years ago, Luke Gesty followed his intuition, and his coach, from Pittsburgh to Akron.

Now the Zips’ senior quarterback has a Mid-American Conference championship and a resum‚ fit for a job in the NFL.

“I didn’t know much about Akron,” Getsy said about his transfer. “There were a couple places I could have went to, but I just felt comfortable with the relationship I had gotten with (Akron) coach (J.D.) Brookhart when we were at Pitt.”

If the season goes as planned, he will be the second Akron quarterback in three years to be drafted into the NFL. But, he would prefer not to be teammates with Brown’s quarterback Charlie Frye again.

“I’ve always been a Steelers fan,” Getsy said. “But as a kid I admired Joe Montana, so that obviously would be a 49ers uniform.”

Despite now being an enemy of Steeler nation, Frye was instrumental in helping Getsy get acclimated with Akron.

“He’s a big reason why I’m where I’m at right now,” Getsy said. “He was a big reason why I became comfortable with this place a lot faster than I thought I would.”

It was during the Frye-Cribbs reign that Getsy was introduced to the Kent State-Akron rivalry. Getsy recalled its intensity his first year at Akron, when the teams faced off two weeks into the season.

This is Getsy’s second season as the leader of the Zips’ offense, and Akron coach J.D. Brookhart said he has been pleased with the quarterback’s play so far.

“He brings the intangibles to the game,” Brookhart said. “And he understands the offense.”

One criticism Brookhart has of his star quarterback is Getsy’s tendency to force a play to get extra yards instead of waiting for the next down.

This will be Getsy’s second go-around with the Flashes. But this time he will be without top offensive weapons such as Domenik Hixon, who is currently a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos.

Hixon was on the receiving end of the Getsy’s game-winning touchdown pass in the MAC championship.

Now, Getsy is depending on younger players like freshman wide receiver David Harvey, and sophomore running back Dennis Kennedy.

“They have made leaps and bounds,” Getsy said. “You could not have expected the kinds of improvements they’ve had this early. It just speaks volumes about how much these guys want it.”

To hold onto the Wagon Wheel for the third year in a row Brookhart said the Zips must not let their feelings get in the way.

“We’ve got to handle the emotions of the game,” he said. “We can’t get too up or too down. We’ve got to be able to steady ourselves.”

Defensive Strategy:

Frye, was 3-1 in his career against Kent State.

The Flashes are devising a defensive strategy that will leave Getsy with only one win on his record.

Kent State defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis said Getsy is comfortable with the Zips’ offense because it’s his second year at the helm.

“He understands their system,” Rekstis said. “You can really tell a difference in the last two years. He’s really much more accustomed to the offense and is really comfortable in what they’re asking him to do.”

To rattle Getsy, Rekstis said the Flashes will try to continue the defensive pressure they have been using the past two wins.

“With the last couple of weeks, our down four guys have done a nice job of getting pressure without necessarily blitzing,” he said.

Discounting the Minnesota 44-0 rout, Kent State has held its opponents to an average of 11 points per game.

Getsy’s passing target, Harvey, is also on Kent State’s radar.

“Obviously because he’s a freshman, he’s not well known,” Rekstis said. “But he’s made at least two big plays in every game.”

Akron’s offense is too balanced to “scheme,” or take away one player, Rekstis added, because they can come back and hurt the Flashes with someone else.

Preventing first downs early in the series will be vital for the Flashes to slow down the Zips’ offense.

“We have to play well early in the downs so that we’re able to get them in some long yardage,” Rekstis said.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said his team will have to contend with a tough Akron defense as well.

Sophomore quarterback Julian Edelman’s ability to shake defenses with the run will be “instrumental” for the Flashes, he added.

Both Martin and Rekstis agree that for the Flashes to have a chance, they can’t have turnovers.

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].