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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nashua’s Kelmy Anziani found his niche and has thrived

CHaD All Star Football Game

From the first season he stepped on a football field, Kelmy Anziani was a kid without a position to play.

His size dictated something much different than his heart, determination and strength seemed capable of. The coaching staff tried linebacker, running back and safety during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Then, in his junior year, he found his home on the gridiron. ...

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From the first season he stepped on a football field, Kelmy Anziani was a kid without a position to play.

His size dictated something much different than his heart, determination and strength seemed capable of. The coaching staff tried linebacker, running back and safety during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Then, in his junior year, he found his home on the gridiron.

Despite hearing the same tired line from outsiders – “You’re too small to be playing interior defensive line” – the Nashua High School South coaches realized what was right in front of them all along. And a defensive tackle/nose tackle was born.

“I had to prove to everyone I could get the job done,” Anziani said. “I’m not really the typical size of an inside lineman, but I felt comfortable as soon as they put me there.”

At 5 feet, 9 inches and 190 pounds, Anziani could be confused for something linemen might eat for dinner. Then they hit the field and the South graduate was the one feasting on the opposition.

He finished his first season at his new position as a Division I All-State Second Team selection. He also tore his ACL. After an offseason of reconstructive surgery, recovery and rehabilitation, he returned to top form as a Division I All-West Conference First Team selection.

His hard work and success earned him a spot on the West’s roster for Saturday’s CHaD East-West New Hampshire High School Football All-Star Game at Saint Anselm College (1 p.m.).

West quad-captain Trevor Knight is happy for his former South teammate.

“The linemen never really get enough credit,” Knight said. “It’s always the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers – anybody scoring touchdowns. He was an instrumental part of what we were as a team at South.

“I know there were people who thought he was smaller in size than others at his position, but he proved he’s as good a player as any of the other guys at his position. He deserves this honor, and I’m happy I get to take the field with him one more time in a game.”

Anziani’s football future is still a blur. So for right now, this may be the last game he plays.

“I’m moving to the Orlando area in Florida,” Anziani said. “I’m going to try and find a school when I’m down there and find a way to play football.”

For now he’ll settle on his new team of all stars as they try to make it three straight years. The West is 2-0 since the game’s inception in 2012, winning the first game 44-12 and, in 2013, 13-7.

It took a few days to get used to a new team and environment, but Anziani is comfortable and having fun during practices at Manchester Memorial.

“It was hard at first for two reasons,” Anziani said. “Not having the same team I’ve played with since freshman year was a big change for me. Then going from a three-stack to a 40 set, was another difference, but this is a strong team and we’re all coming together.”

A team that along with Knight includes Nashua High School North tight end/defensive end John Vidal, who practiced for the first time Wednesday while nursing an ankle injury.

There is hope Vidal will get some playing time Saturday.

Hopefully some of that playing time will come alongside Anziani, who likes what he sees out of the entire defensive unit.

He’s expecting another win for the West on Saturday.

“This is a great defensive group,” Anziani said.

“To take so many talented guys from different teams and put them all together and we’re all really working well together.”