Alumnus Kacz leads team to indoor league title


Dave DeLuca/The Record file photo

Former Buffalo State quarterback Casey Kacz holds programs records for completion percentage in a career (59.2 percent), completion percentage in season (62 percent), quarterback rushing yards (849), rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (18), and passing yards in a game (579).

Anthony Reyes, Opinion Editor

For most college students, the question that weighs on their mind the most is: “what is life after college going to be like?” Some may have it figured out or even have jobs lined up before graduating. But for most new post-graduates, it’s one of the most pressing questions they ask themselves.

Former Buffalo State Football quarterback Casey Kacz is no different.

Kacz, a three-year starter and three-time All-Conference selection put up gaudy numbers in his time at Buffalo State, finishing with 6,081 passing yards and 30 touchdowns to go along with 849 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in 28 games played.

He holds school records for most rushing yards by a quarterback in school history (849), passing attempts in a season (305), completions in a season (189), completion percentage in a season (62.0) and completion percentage in a career (59.2).

Kacz was in control during his time at Buffalo State, but once he stepped off that stage with his diploma in hand, and out into the real world, he was no longer in control. He had to let his numbers and talent do the talking, and hope someone took a chance on him.

He attended the NFL regional combine and created a tape of some of his highlights and sent it to every team possible, and then it was time to play the waiting game.

Finally, in November of 2014, he received a call from the Columbus Lions, a professional indoor football (PIFL) team, in Columbus, Georgia. Kacz knew they had a starting quarterback already but was excited for the chance to compete and signed with them in December.

Kacz began the season as the backup to Antwon Young. Young was a four-year starter at Villanova where he won a Division-I AA National Championship, and was also PIFL MVP in 2012 for the Richmond Raiders.

The Lions won their season opener 52-50, with Young throwing for 305 yards and six touchdowns. The Lions headed to Trenton for their second game of the season, when suddenly, during warm-ups, everything changed.

“He (Young) just kind of limps over and says ‘Man I just felt a weird pop in my knee, I don’t think I can go,’” Kacz said. “And the coach told me about 10 minutes before the game that I was starting.”

It was Kacz’s time to shine, and shine he did. In his first career action in the PIFL, he finished the game with 350 passing yards and eight touchdowns, both single-game franchise records, and led the Lions to a 70-60 victory. The performances earned him PIFL Player of the Week honors.

Lions head coach Jason Gibbons liked what he saw from Kacz. He made the decision to start him again next week when they headed to Richmond to take on the Raiders. Once again, he took advantage of the opportunity and impressed, putting up 301 yards and seven touchdowns.

Young’s injury turned out to be minor, but Kacz had earned the starting spot, supplanting a quarterback who was just two years removed from winning an MVP award.

Kacz remained the starter for the remainder of the season, leading the Lions to an 8-3 record and ultimately a PIFL Championship. He finished the season with 2,361 passing yards and 58.5 completion percentage to go along with 52 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 154 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. His performance earned him PIFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

John Alessandra, a senior linebacker at Buffalo State, former teammate of Kacz and a longtime friend, knew that Kacz was capable of the accomplishments.

“He’s (Kacz) a fighter, he never gives up, he’s relentless, he works hard, so it was really no surprise to me,” Alessandra said. “I was talking to him before the season started and I said ‘All you need is an opportunity, and once you have that opportunity, your natural talent and hard work is going to pay off.’”

For Kacz’s former head coach at Buffalo State, Jerry Boyes, he had seen a situation like this play out before, so he wasn’t surprised by it either.

“He’s (Kacz) a very good athlete and it just kind of happens that way,” Boyes said. “It was by fate that he got the opportunity to start and the rest is history. It’s kind of like when he transferred here, we had a quarterback that was a year ahead of him at the time, and all the sudden he struggles a little bit, and Casey comes in and gets the starting nod and starts every game for the next three years.”

Kacz credits his time and experiences at Buffalo State as a big part of why he is where he is today.

“Buff State definitely got me ready,” Kacz said. “Got me ready leadership-wise, you know, to be the quarterback at Buff State you have to be a vocal leader, you have to be someone that Coach Boyes trusts. And behind that coaching staff and all the great players we had there, they allowed me to become a great leader and I think a great teammate.”

This was something that Kacz’s peers expected from him, but he knew a lot of variables had to swing in his favor.

“It’s unreal, so many things had to go the right way, so many little things,” Kacz said. “I’ve been really blessed with every thing that’s happened to me with football.”

With the success Kacz has realized at the professional level, attention has been brought to not only himself, but to Buffalo State.

“Every time Casey makes something happen – ‘former football player, Buffalo state,’ – and that word is out there,” Boyes said. “The market, the brand — Buffalo State College goes along with Casey Kacz wherever he goes. That’s a real benefit — not just for the football program — to me, I believe it’s a benefit to the college because the college name is out there and the more it’s out there the better.”

Kacz has not only brought more attention to himself and the school, but he has also instilled pride and belief in some of his former teammates and current Buffalo Sate football players.

“Seeing guys that come out of the same school that I’m at now do great things like that always gives hope to me and the rest of the team,” junior quarterback Kyle Hoppy said. “If anybody wants to take their career further than they are now, they know its possible by what guys like Casey are doing.”

Hoppy, who was a freshman when Kacz was a senior, served as his backup.

“I think Casey’s got the drive and the ability to play as long as he wants,” Hoppy said. “And if somebody is going to give him a shot, I think it would be a smart choice.”

Kacz expressed that he could not have accomplished any of this on his own. He credited his parents and his grandfather, the Buffalo State coaching staff, particularly Boyes and former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Greg Forest, Mike Masters, the director of Cross Training Football, his teammate and fellow quarterback, Antwon Young, and God for blessing him with any abilities that he has.

Although Kacz has accomplished a lot, he doesn’t want to stop where he is.

“Nothing happens without working hard and being ready for it,” Kacz said. “I think a lot of guys are okay with being where they’re at, but you can’t ever be satisfied.”

Kacz expressed that he’s trying to move up to the Canadian Football League (CFL), but he isn’t sure how good his chances are. He hasn’t decided if he is going to go back to Columbus for another season, but he knows he is going to have to compete for the starting role if he does decide to return.

“I think I’ve got a lot left in the tank; I’m only 24,” Kacz said. “I think that’s still pretty young for the game of football. I see me playing somewhere hopefully at a higher level. If not, I’ll continue playing somewhere and just kind of chase the dream, if you will, and kind of see what happens.”

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Twitter: @A_Reyes26