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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Saratoga Standout: Adhem Elsawi Anchors East Carolina Pirates Offensive Line

By | Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS – As student-athletes from area high schools graduate and move on to collegiate programs, the media’s attention tends to shift toward the next batch of kids ready to suit up for the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks. Students moving on to programs that are outside of their hometown’s coverage area can be overlooked unless they become stars in their own right.


Adhem Elsawi, junior starting left tackle for the East Carolina Pirates football program, started for Saratoga Springs for three seasons before moving on to Campbell College in North Carolina. He received all-area honors as an offensive line in his senior year with the Blue Streaks. Believing he could become a starter for a Division I program, he transferred to East Carolina University, where he’s become the unlikely leader of a line that propels the Pirates’ offensive attack.

“It’s been a dream for me,” said Elsawi about playing at East Carolina. “Every year I’ve been here, I’ve absolutely loved this place and have been really proud to say I’m a Pirate and this season’s no different. I’ve been getting a lot better and I’ve developed a love for the game that I can honestly say I’ve never had before because I’m starting to get used to this big game feel. It’s a blessing that makes me love the game that much more.”

Those familiar with the game of football could tell you that it’s exceedingly rare for a member of the offensive line to get noticed for their contributions on the football field. If they’re performing their job correctly, you probably won’t hear much about them. The running backs they create lanes for and the quarterbacks they protect in the pocket could not do what they do without them.

The East Carolina Pirates offense has been performing well this season, with quarterback Shane Carden’s quarterback rating an impressive 139.3. Wide receiver Justin Hardy leads all of Conference-USA in receiving yards. Elsawi’s line is crucial to the rest of the team’s performance.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” said Elsawi. “It’s awesome to see teammates doing such great things. Especially as an offensive lineman, I’m used to kind of a background mentality. I do my job to make sure my team is successful. When my teammates are doing great and having such awesome games, I’m happy for them and know that it’s in no small part to me and my brothers on the offensive line.”

Elsawi couldn’t be happier playing Division I football in North Carolina, adding that there isn’t much time during the year for him to get back to the Spa City.

“I basically don’t have any time to come back to New York,” said Elsawi. “What’s been happening is I’ll come home for maybe five days at a time but then I’m right back down here. It has to do with our offseason regimen and the way we lift and train. For the most part, I’ve been staying down here in North Carolina.”

When asked what he misses most about coming back home, Elsawi’s answer came quickly.

“First and foremost, my family,” said Elsawi. “That’s the first thing that comes to mind, my parents and my brothers and sisters. After that, there’s just something about the air. Every time I go back it’s just crisp and a little cold, but I like it a little cold.”

As for the team, their 4-1 Conference-USA record has them at the top of their division this season and with a win November 3 against Houston, Elsawi and his team will qualify for one last December bowl game, which would be his first after the team won just five games in 2011. The win won’t come easily though, as last season’s matchup against the Cougars led to a 56-3 win for Houston.

“The offensive mentality dictates that it doesn’t really matter who we’re playing, we have to go out and execute on offense and play to the best of our ability. That’s not to say we aren’t preparing [for Houston] but they’re going to be a tough team and we’re going to make sure we do enough to feel we’re prepared to win this game.”

While the blowout loss from 2011 isn’t their primary focus, Elsawi adds that East Carolina won’t just forgive and forget when they meet that Saturday afternoon.

“You can bet that there’s going to be a little something extra as far as the offensive line goes.”

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