Football Friday: Past injuries only heighten Minicozzi’s drive to complete the dream

NEWTOWN SQUARE — Waiting on the sidelines the last two seasons at Episcopal Academy would be difficult for anyone. It was tougher for Michael Minicozzi, who knew exactly what he was missing.

Most of Minicozzi’s life has been spent around EA football. His eldest brother John graduated in 2015, a standout on the undefeated 2012 Inter-Ac Championship team before becoming an all-conference lineman at Dickinson College. Dominic Minicozzi was part of the 2019 league title squad, graduating in 2020. Michael was in the stands for so many of those games – dating back 11 years, for a kid now in the 12th grade.

“It’s definitely been my life for a while,” Michael said at practice Thursday. “It’s probably one of the most important things I have in my life.”

Michael longed to add his name to the list, but only in his senior season has that come to fruition. As a sophomore, the combination of a torn meniscus in the summer of 2020 and the COVID-shortened fall campaign that resulted in only three games and an Unofficial league season added up to a mere smattering of snaps. He Tore the ACL in his other knee the following summer, writing off his junior campaign.

Difficult as the focus on twin recoveries was, it was nothing compared to watching yet another season go by without Minicozzi able to take part.

“It’s definitely hard, especially in games when your team isn’t doing how you want them to do and you feel like you really can’t help your team and you have to sit there and watch,” he said. “You feel kind of useless sometimes.”

Minicozzi is adapting this year, a key cog on the line for the unbeaten Churchmen. The 5-10, 200-pounder is starting both ways, at defensive end and offensive guard. He’s a big part of the Churchmen’s 4-0 start, outscoring opponents by a 169-32 margin with one nonleague test left, against Blair School of New Jersey Friday night, before a bye week and then the descent into the Inter-Ac gauntlet.

So far, it’s been everything that Minicozzi had hoped for during those frustrating evenings on the sidelines. Both of his brothers helped with the emotional aspect of rehabilitation, of staying patient and diligent. They’ve been to most of his games – Dominic is a junior at Ursinus; John works in the Baltimore area – which only heightens his ties to the program’s past.

As a leader, Minicozzi has meshed what he missed on the field with the wisdom he gained off it. As a spectator, he was able to clock “definitely a lack of focus sometimes” during last year’s 6-4 campaign. There’s no room for that this year, he says. Not if the team is going to reach its potential and be the best version of itself.

And not if Minicozzi is going to etch his name alongside his brothers, in EA and in family lore, as a league champion.

“Seeing both of them have their time to shine, I’m kind of looking for mine, too,” he said. “Kind of bringing something in my name in the family and the Episcopal tradition.”

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