LB Gazzillo brings old school toughness to Cornwall ‘D’

By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider

Cornwall linebacker Steve Gazzillo has played through back injuries, shoulder stingers and several other ailments that coach Mike Connolly suspects that he never even told him about.

That’s just how Steve Gazzillo rolls. He’s tough, gritty and selfless, and for two years he’s been making plays all over the field for the Green Dragons at approximately 170 pounds.

“The best way to describe Steve is that he’s a throwback player,” Connolly said. “He’s old school, he will play injured every week if he has to, but he never complains. Steve is pretty much the toughest kid in the program. He is just tough as nails and it’s refreshing to have a kid in the program like that.”

Gazzillo, a senior, has led the seven-time defending Section 9 Class A champions in tackles the last two seasons despite giving more than 30 pounds to most offensive lineman he meets up with in the trenches. He has registered 67 tackles in each of the last two seasons for Cornwall. Gazzillo put up 13 tackles and a sack in the Green Dragons’ 32-22 win over Pine Bush last Friday.

 “Steve makes up for his size with aggression,” said Cornwall two-way lineman Will Leonard, who wrestles with Gazzillo. Gazzillo wrestled at 145 pounds as a junior, finishing third in the Section 9 tournament.

“He goes 100 percent and nothing less all the time,” Leonard added. “Steve just has a mental edge that takes over. He laid a big hit on a Pine Bush player last week and you can tell he was a little banged up. But Steve stayed in the game because he just has a winning attitude. He is a role-model and you want to follow in his footsteps.”

When asked about his toughness, Gazzillo just shrugs it off. It’s really just who he is. Gazzillo chalks up to his toughness to his dad, also named Steve, who coached him during his Cornwall Youth Football days. Gazzillo’s father always taught his son about the importance of an honest day’s hard work and never accepted excuses.

With Gazzillo’s help, Cornwall limited Section 9 opponents to a total of just 67 points with four shutouts in nine games. Twenty-eight of those points were scored by Newburgh in a game Cornwall won 31-28.

“I just try to play with that attitude,” Gazzillo said. “I really don’t like to go out of the game, no matter how much pain I’m in. I’ll do anything for my team I will always be there for them. I don’t want to let the guy next to me down.”

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