WESTFIELD, NJ — As the Westfield High School varsity football team continues to ride an 18-game win streak, their defensive line that returned all four starters from last year’s championship team continues to shine. Their anchor so far has been senior co-captain and defensive end Owen Kessler.
After last week’s 28-13 win over Union, Kessler leads the team in sacks with nine, is second on the team in solo tackles with 23 and is fifth on the team in total tackles with 37.
Kessler is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.
“I feel like I had a pretty solid performance last week against Union,” Kessler said. “I had a sack and a few tackles as well. They were a strong team with some big guys up front on the O-line.”
After a hot start, Kessler knows he has to do his part to help keep it going.
“I just have to keep doing my job like everyone else on the defense is doing,” he said. “That has been key to the success for our season defensively. The offense has been doing great all year, and I am confident they will continue to do so.”
Head coach Jim DeSarno admires Kessler’s leadership and work ethic.
“He's a three-year starter and was voted captain by his teammates this year,” DeSarno said. “He is a great leader by example. He works hard everyday in practice and in the weight room.”
As an experienced starter, Kessler continues to improve.
“He has gotten better each year,” DeSarno said. “He has built upon his strengths in terms of pass rush moves and ability to shed blocks. We just want Owen to be himself, as a great player and leader on and off the field.”
Kessler said he started playing football because his older brother, who played from third grade through high school and started on varsity for a couple of years at center, inspired him.
“I have continued to play because I love the energy, hitting and brotherhood it creates,” Kessler said.
Kessler loves playing defensive end for the physicality and ability to get sacks.
“Defensive end is great because I am expected to sack the quarterback the most. It's a great feeling to make an O-lineman look dumb and to destroy a QB. Quarterbacks never get hit in practice, so they have to pay for it in games.”
Kessler hopes to play football at the next level in college.
“I have received a couple of offers, but I still am not sure where I will end up,” he said. “It's a long recruiting process compared to some of the other sports. If things don't work out, I may decide to go to a school and walk on to the football team.”
Going forward, Kessler demands the best of himself.
“My personal goal for the rest of the season is to do my job,” he said. “That means being the leading tackler and to lead in sacks. Also, to win Westfield another state championship.”
Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a student journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.
The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located on the South Avenue Circle in Westfield, the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.