Prior to the start of the 2013 season Tanner Karafa showed he had the skills to play in the front seven on of Stone Bridge’s defense. But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior began the season as the team’s starting tight end.
When injuries struck the linebacker core, Karafa was thrown in as the starting outside linebacker. In just two starts he totaled a dozen tackles and displayed standout technique when wrapping up in the open field.
In mid-February, he was rewarded for his versatility and picked up his first in-state offer from Virginia Tech. The Hokies told Karafa he can play on either side of the ball.
Last weekend, he visited Virginia where the Bulldogs finished as runner-up in the 2012 Virginia AAA Division 5 championship. In Charlottesville, Karafa took in the the No. 5 Cavaliers men’s basketball team’s upset over then-No. 4 Syracuse but left the campus without an offer. Wednesday morning, that offer came.
“It was a crazy upset. That was probably the highlight of my visit,” Karafa said. “I really didn’t think U-Va. would come out like that. I was pretty shocked. It was pretty amazing to see such a high intensity U-Va. team and Syracuse playing on their heels.”
Charlotte was the first school to offer, but Karafa, who boasts a 3.91 GPA, has also earned offers from Ivy League schools Harvard and Pennsylvania. Old Dominion has also offered Karafa. He’s spending his spring as a first baseman on the Bulldogs’ baseball team and will look to put together a more consistent season after a sophomore season in which he finished with a .250 batting average after hitting .400 early on.
Karafa said he doesn’t have a preference between tight end and linebacker but feels his frame is most suited for the defensive side of the ball. He caught four passes at tight end and proved to be very difficult to tackle with his punishing running style.
“I’m able to feel plays on defense, I know what’s going on in the field and I’m just trying to attack,” Karafa said. “On offense I’m more so putting people on their back, just trying to take you down.”
Karafa plans to start on both sides of the ball next season and help his team improve upon a 9-3 campaign that ended in heartbreak with a Virginia 5A North quarterfinal loss to rival Broad Run.
“People are going to be surprised when they see my numbers on defense,” Karafa said. “People are going to see what they don’t expect.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 29
Points scored by Danielle Rojas to help the Trojans rally for a comeback win in a Maryland 4A West quarterfinal at Wootton. Gaithersburg will meet Magruder in the 4A West semifinals Thursday.
— Gwynn Park senior Mike Pegram calmly knocked down key free throws late to lift the Yellow Jackets over Largo, 45-41, in the 2A South quarterfinals. The No. 20 Gwynn Park girls’ defeated Friendly handily in the second game of the double-header.
— The Gaithersburg boys’ also picked up a win in the 4A West quarterfinals at home, beating Magruder 70-65. The Trojans used their new half court 1-3-1 trap to keep Margruder off balance and every starter registered points.
— On her late father’s birthday, Reservoir senior Zelor Massaquoi scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Gators’ 10-point victory over River Hill. The boys’ team ran past River Hill 71-58 in an earlier region quarterfinal.
— While the Maryland basketball playoffs were pushed back due to the recent snow storm, spring sports have had to find alternative ways to practice due to the inclement weather.
PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Gwynn Park took care of business and home and knocked off Largo 45-41 to advance to the 2A South semifinals. Check out out photo gallery from the game below.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The DCSAA Finals at Verizon Center
The D.C. State Athletic Association finals will tip-off at 6 p.m. when No. 4 St. John’s (24-7) tangles with No. 9 Georgetown Visitation (27-3). The boys’ game will follow at 8 p.m. as two senior laden squads go toe-to-toe when MAC champions No. 10 Maret (22-7) face DCIAA winners No. 12 Theodore Roosevelt (24-6) to decide the best team in the District.