Hohenfels sophomore putting up big numbers
Hohfenfels sophomore David Vidovic turns the corner Sept. 15 in Naples as linebacker Makua Camarao gives chase and Hohenfels' Kyle Zeltner walls off defensive back Tyler Williams The play underscores the postgame comment of Naples coach Steve Altstiel: "(Vidovic) broke a few outside, and once he was in the open field it was difficult to catch him."
Stars and Stripes
The player who personifies a rising level of European football talent has an even bigger upside of his own.
“David Vidovic is a big-time back,” Ansbach head coach Marcus George wrote in a recent email which assessed the considerable talents of the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Hohenfels sophomore, who in five games so far this season is averaging over 10 yards per carry. “(He) was scary as a JV player at Vilseck last year and has only gotten bigger and stronger. He has college potential.”
George, whose team will be trying to contain Vidovic in a Friday night road game, isn’t alone in his opinion of the abilities of Ansbach’s No. 1 defensive challenge this week. The Croatian-born Vidovic was selected last month for Team Europe’s entry in the 2012 All-American Games in San Antonio, Texas, by a panel of selectors with NFL experience.
Added SHAPE coach Kenny Potter, whose Spartans downed visiting Hohenfels 35-12 on Sept. 21, “David is a skilled, physical football player who completely understands how to play the game. Every moment he is on the field, on offense or defense, he poses a threat.”
Potter made his comments after seeing Vidovic burn his young Spartans for an 83-yard kickoff-return TD and 13 carries for 82 yards and the other Hohenfels TD. It was the only game this season, which includes a non-conference game against German club Regensburg, that Vidovic has been held to double-digits. He’s gained 979 yards in 97 tries, with a season-high 337 with five touchdowns in a 44-42 victory over visiting AFNORTH on Sept. 29.
“That was really fun,” Vidovic said about the shoot-out against AFNORTH. “It was the closest game I’ve ever played.”
In addition to reflecting the efforts of Vidovic’s teammates, the sophomore’s stats quantify both Vidovic’s talent and attitude.
“I love to play football,” Vidovic said by telephone last week when asked whether he had ambitions toward the game’s next level.
Those ambitions took a major step forward at the Ansbach tryout camp for Team Europe in early September.
“I really was surprised to make the team,” Vidovic said. “When I saw the talent of the people at the camp, I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I just did my best.”
That seems to be a recurring theme.
Vidovic, for example, said his transfer to the Division II program at Hohenfels from the high-powered world at D-I contender Vilseck wasn’t any sort of disappointment.
“Coach (Vilseck JV boss Eric) Mead said I’d be facing the same challenge no matter where I played,” Vidovic said. “I just had to play hard.”
Helping Vidovic cope with the mental aspects his spiraling rise in the game is his stepfather, Kenneth McKoy, the Hohenfels garrison command sergeant major.
“I’ve been watching David play for three years,” said McKoy, a former football player who religiously avoids trying to influence the way the Hohenfels staff uses his talented stepson.
“That’s their business,” he said. “At the end of the day, they have to have a team. I try to be a mentor at home, to help him understand that football includes on-field and off-field responsibilities and that he has to take care of both.”
Off-field responsibilities include, among other things, keeping grades up and conducting oneself in a responsible way, McKoy said. They’re lessons he learned when he was a teen in what he called a “rough area” of Fayetteville, N.C.
“Somebody took the time to work with me, to show me right from wrong and tell me that decisions have consequences,” McKoy said. “He helped me mature into a good person.”
McKoy regularly passes those lessons along to Vidovic.
“One of the biggest things in my household is to gather around the table every night,” McKoy said, “and have empowering discussions about the right way to do things.”
Vidovic, who’s also a basketball player of no little prowess and who ran the lead leg of Vilseck’s 4x100 European silver-medal relay team last May, is absorbing it all, McKoy said.
And showing it all, on the field, according to SHAPE’s Potter.
“He’s simply a joy to watch,” Potter concluded.