by Tom Pedulla –
Football, even high school football, tends to be a big man’s game. Do not tell that to Awvise Khan of Dobbs Ferry.
Although he hardly strikes an imposing figure as a fullback and defensive nose guard at 5-9, 180 pounds, he found ways to compensate for his lack of stature by playing with unbridled enthusiasm and determination that energized the rest of his high-powered Class C team.
“I was always a high-energy guy,” Khan said. “I’m not the type to give up.”
When he took a handoff out of the Eagles’ old-school wing-T formation, he sometimes appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage. He kept straining for more yardage, kept his legs churning and would suddenly break free. On defense, it sometimes appeared that he was successfully blocked. And then, just as suddenly, he was not.
Coach James Moran praised Khan, a mainstay as a junior and senior, for how hard he worked in the weight room during the offseason.
“He’s a strong kid for his size, but he just has a motor that won’t stop,” Moran said. “There are plays where he is getting it handed to him pretty good. And then the guy gives up a little bit and Awvise is by you.”
There were times when Yaseen Hamideh, also a senior who played center and defensive line, could only look at Khan and shake his head in disbelief at the speed with which his teammate played.
“His motor is crazy,” Hamideh said. “He’ll give you all he’s got for 48 minutes every single game, every single snap.”
Saud Maqsood, a senior defensive tackle, grew up with Khan and is his cousin. He said Khan is relentless in everything he pursues and enjoys leading by example.
“He has a fire in him,” Maqsood said, “and that motivation helps all of us.”
Who would not be inspired by the sight of Khan shedding taller and heavier opponents?
“He drives back 6-4 dudes,” Hamideh said. “He’s small but he’s quick and has great explosion.”
According to Khan, that quickness keyed his success. “Nobody looks at me and says, ‘Oh, he’s a defensive lineman.’ I don’t look the part,” he admitted. “But I have a quickness that other defensive linemen in the section don’t have.”
Khan does everything fast, beginning with the pace of his speech. The words all but flew from his mouth as he described the exhilaration he experienced by carrying 16 times for 111 yards and a touchdown against O’Neill, how exciting it was to run to daylight when he rushed 14 times for 140 yards and two scores in a 28-13 victory against Rondout Valley from Accord, N.Y.
Khan also reached double figures in tackles against O’Neill with 11 and spoke with fervor about the Eagles’ goal-line stands this season. “There is nothing better,” he said. “It feels so good.”
There is nothing complex about his approach on defense.
“I’m a ball hawk. I just look for the ball,” he said. “My first instinct when I see the ball snapped, I jack the person in front of me and go at the ball. The only thing on my mind is the ball. It’s been working.”
Khan helped to inspire a defense that shut out its first two Class C opponents. Woodlands was blanked 35-0. Valhalla also was unable to reach the end zone, bowing 41-0. He does not hold anything back emotionally.
“He gets very excited, a lot of stomping and clapping and he gets fired up,” Moran said. “When he’s excited, things are going well for us.”