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Photo: Christopher Dolan, License: N/A, Created: 2019:09:28 13:21:36

CHRISTOPHER DOLAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Abington Heights’ Michael Pusateri moves past Honesdale’s Luke Bancroft during a game on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Sometimes the small victories mean the most.

Michael Pusateri has always done whatever it takes for his team to enjoy success. That road, which includes hours of dedication and commitment, sometimes seems endless when the wins are few and far between.

It doesn’t discourage him.

And after leading Abington Heights to its only triumph so far this season — 16-0 over Honesdale on Sept. 28 — he had a huge smile as he and his teammates celebrated when the band saluted them with the alma mater.

“Every win means so much,” Pusateri, 18, said. “All the work, the 100’s of hours you put in the offseason in the weight room and running. So far, they haven’t come happen too often. Everyone thinks you aren’t trying, but we are working hard and grinding everyday, so when you get a win is really great.”

Throughout his career, Pusateri has put in the work.

He spent most of his youth playing baseball, even in the fall with his travel team.

Then, in eighth grade, Pusateri, through the encouragement of his classmates, joined the Junior Comets. He is from an athletic family, which includes a pair of sisters, Allie and Catherine, who both were All-Region tennis players, and his grandfather, Joe Pusateri, was a long time administrator and athletic director in the Scranton School District.

“He always just preached to go out and play your best,” Pusateri said. “He is a very humble guy. I think he knows everybody in the Scranton area.”

Once he joined the Comets varsity, Pusateri played fullback. He had a natural, powerful running form that allowed him to be a solid blocker and ground gainer in between the tackles.

But last season, when injuries started knocking players out of action, coach Joe Repshis looked to Pusateri to fill in gaps along the line of scrimmage.

He willingly made the move to guard, where he knew, at 190 pounds he would be undersized.

“It was quite a change,” Pusateri said. “I was willing to do whatever coach needed to the team could be successful. I was kind of shocked.

“It was definitely different. At fullback you are usually going against guys who are the same size or a little smaller. On the line, I was a lot smaller. It was weird getting into pass sets and I had to learn to use my leverage against the bigger players.”

Abington Heights won just two games. But Pusateri entered the offseason optimistic and became a leader in the weight room.

Having a senior with experience on the line led Repshis and the staff to keep him at guard in 2019. Through all the time, Pusateri always maintained his intensity and made valuable contributions at linebacker.

Then, injuries depleted the Comets of available backs.

So, Pusateri was called upon to make the move back.

He, again, did so willingly.

“I really thought it was best for the team,” Pusateri said. “I was doing whatever the coaches asked.”

In his return, Pusateri had a 100-yard game and scored on a 51-yard run that spearheaded the Comets’ win over Honesdale.

It was a rewarding game for a player who had given so much.

“I was pretty excited to get the football,” Pusateri said. “I had a more direct impact on the offense. I wanted to go as hard as I could

“We needed a little boost.”

As committed to the classroom as he is to the athletic field, Pusateri is aiming to study physical therapy in college.

And he will continue to lead Abington Heights through the end of the season.

Conatct the writer:

jbfawcett@timesshamrock.com