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St. Vincent's Pavlovsky is Southeast Missourian football player of the year
C.J. Pavlovsky considered attending high school in Cape Girardeau so he could play his favorite sport since St. Vincent didn't offer boys soccer.
A lot of defenses wish he'd made that move four years ago after Pavlovsky rushed for more than 1,000 yards as the Indians' senior running back this year.
"I was a soccer guy," Pavlovsky said. "I even debated switching schools to play soccer.
"I wasn't sure about football. But after my sophomore year, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I liked it, but I still had that, 'I like soccer.' My sophomore year was good, but my junior year, I was like, I love it."
Pavlovsky made his presence felt on both sides of the football this season. In addition to rushing for more than 1,000 yards, he intercepted seven passes on defense. In recognition of his leading the Indians to the district championship and the playoffs, Pavlovsky is the 2009 Southeast Missourian football player of the year.
"He's just a good athlete," St. Vincent quarterback Tim Schumer said. "We knew going in he was going to be a big part of our offense because he had a good year his junior year."
The Indians lost their first four games of the season despite Pavlovsky leading the team in rushing each game. The Indians picked up their first win in Week 5 against St. Pius.
"I think it really started the St. Pius game, that's where we really broke out," Pavlovsky said. "The line really started to fire off the ball and everything started from there. For the next few weeks from there, the yardage was still there and we kept winning. We figured out that that was us, that was our identity, and that's when I started to get really comfortable."
Pavlovsky rushed for 246 yards on 40 carries against St. Pius. It started a string of four consecutive games where Pavlovsky rushed for at least 140 yards.
"I hit the holes as hard as I could," Pavlovsky said. "Once I got to the second level, I started looking for weaknesses and looked to where I could make a cut and make a person miss and gain as many yards as possible."
The last game in that string was against Chaffee to open district play. He gained 140 yards against the Red Devils.
"He's pretty quick and he just cut all the way across the line and it was just hard to get back at him," Chaffee defensive back Jordan Yahn said.
St. Vincent coach Paul Sauer said Pavlovsky excelled at making defenders miss. Even if a defender got a hand on the senior, he rarely was hit hard.
"He does see the field very well and he was able to find those cutback lanes," Sauer said. "He's kind of shifty. He's kind of got a little bit of move to him where he can make people miss. He had great balance that let him, even if they did get a lick on him, he was able to keep his balance and keep on going."
Pavlovsky rushed for 1,137 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 103.4 yards per game.
"He could just see what holes were opening up," St. Vincent offensive lineman Clint Brown said. "I played on the right side with Dylan Geringer. We would always know where to block. There was just something we had together. If a guy was going to be here, we were going to block him and he knew we were going to block him. He just knew that we had his back. Running downfield, we would run downfield in front of him and take a guy out for him. For me, he kind of knew his line and where they would be for him."
Pavlovsky wasted no time in offering an explanation for his standout season on offense.
"Everything started with the line," he said. "Without them, the holes don't open up and everything like that. They have to get it done. We started our passing game through the run. That's where it all starts."
Pavlovsky's willingness to share the praise for his success sat well with his offensive linemen.
"He gave the credit to us a lot, which was really, really good," Brown said. "He scores the touchdowns to make the points, and on defense he makes the interceptions so we can go back on the field."
Sauer said that Pavlovsky's ability to read the field as a running back also helped him as a defensive player, especially when picking off passes.
"He had good vision," Sauer said. "He saw the play develop and he was able to break on the ball a little quicker than most. That allowed him to pick off a few more passes than most."
Pavlovsky intercepted seven passes, including one he returned 35 yards for a score. He also was the team's No. 2 tackler behind Derek Triller. Pavlovsky made 42 tackles and 38 assists. He also had a sack.
"I kind of moved around a lot this year," he said. "I played cornerback at the beginning of the year, then safety, then at districts I played linebacker for three games. My key was the quarterback. I just watched his eyes when I was playing defense to make those interceptions. ... I was just there when we needed it, I guess."
Pavlovsky entered high school unsure about playing football. Now he's considering continuing his playing career in college.
"I've had a couple colleges ask, but we'll see," he said. "I haven't signed yet. I love the game, but I have to go to a school that has my program -- physical therapy. Not all schools have the doctorate and I don't really want to transfer."