Deep passion, determination help Applehans thrive on line
Football has meant a lot to Dominic Applehans.
If it were not for football, Applehans may not be getting a college education and working toward a degree.
“I’ve loved coming out and playing football since I was a little kid,” said Applehans, who started playing football when he was 7 years old. “I love practice and putting on the uniform. When I was little, that’s what it was all about. I have a deep passion for it. I can’t automatically turn it off.”
The Mesa State College sophomore had his struggles, but is falling in line with recent Mesa State All-RMAC defensive lineman Creed James and Kurt Kissner.
“Creed James got us started with his work ethic,” Mesa State co-defensive coordinator Bill Stafford said.
“All my guys are fun guys, but when it’s go time, they go. Kurt fed off Creed and Nic (Pade) and Dom fed off Kurt.
“We’ve got some young guys learning from these guys. It was a great thing they started. Now, this place is a place guys come to play defensive line.”
Applehans may be more talented than James or Kissner and works as hard as them.
“Dom is the definition of perfect perseverance and hard work,” Stafford said. “The kid has overcome a lot of obstacles. I would be proud to call him my own.
“He has the skills and ability to play anywhere.”
Stafford and head coach Joe Ramunno believe Applehans was a big reason last year Kurt Kissner had the success he had, making 67 tackles and leading the nation in total sacks with 15.5.
“The other coaches know of him and where he’s at on the field,” Ramunno said. “He’s very talented. He draws a lot of attention blocking-wise. He was a big part of Kurt’s success and Kurt would tell you that.
“Dom is a special one. He has great explosion.”
Last year Applehans had 31 tackles and 1.5 sacks, playing on the opposite side of Kissner, but Applehans felt he struggled in his first season of college ball.
“I didn’t play to the best of my ability (last year),” Applehans said. “I needed to put in a lot of work.
“I felt like I needed to step up a lot. I came in (to last season) rusty. Later in the season, I felt better.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from Thornton spent the summer in Grand Junction training with his teammates.
The work paid off. Applehans trimmed several pounds and is getting into opposing backfields faster.
“It helped me a lot,” he said. “My brother and I worked our tails off. We’d go to the track and run 100s and hit the bag every day. All of that combined got me into shape. By the end of the summer, I was where I wanted to be.”
Applehans and pade lead the team in sacks this year with three. Applehans has 28 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss.
“I feel good about the team,” Applehans said. “I’m proud of everyone. We’re practicing our butts off.”