Joe Powers doesn’t need a push to get into the weight room. He learned the cost of not being in shape the hard way.
In second grade, Powers walked onto the football field at Lewiston-Porter High School. He was enamored with the scenery and the way the lights hit the turf during the nighttime.
At the same time, he was furious at himself for being two pounds above the maximum weight that he could play at in his first football scrimmage.
“I was devastated,” Powers recalled. “I remember walking onto the field without my pads on and thinking, ‘Wow this is amazing, I’m so frustrated that I cannot play and now it’s time to work harder to make sure I can play.’”
At that moment, Powers vowed to never allow himself to miss another game and made every single cut for the rest of his little league football career.
“My passion for football began in second grade,” said Powers, now a junior lineman on the Lew-Port High School football team.
That passion remains for Powers. He is getting looks from several Division-I FBS schools as he prepares for his final season as a Lancer and works toward his dream of playing collegiately.
Former Lew-Port head coach David Adelizi sees that passion in Powers.
“He is intense,” Adelizi says. “At times, offensively at the end of the play he is still driving guys 15 yards down the field.”
Powers was called up to the varsity as a freshman and started both ways.
“I’ve been coaching for 30-35 years,” said Adelizi, who has coached football at many levels. “You look for someone who has a unique combination of both power and quickness to be a lineman. You usually find someone with one or the other. When you find someone with both, it’s special.”
Adelizi and his coaching staff saw Powers’ size, his intelligence and maturity. They made him the starting center, where he called the blocking for the entire offensive line.
Telling upperclassmen what to do on every play can be intimidating for many freshmen. But Powers was up to the challenge.
“I just went out there and did it,” Powers said. “(The upperclassmen) really trusted me to make those calls.”
Powers has played center, guard, and defensive tackle in his three varsity years.
This past year, Powers was on the field for most of the game playing offense, defense and special teams. That earned him recognition as the Trench Trophy committee, a group the recognizes the top lineman in western New York high school football, made him one of two Underclassman of the Year award winners this past December.
Besides being a standout football player, Powers also plays basketball and lacrosse for Lew-Port all while maintaining a 3.6 GPA.
“It’s about staying focused on the sport you’re in and your schoolwork,” Powers said about managing everything.
His mother, Karen Giambra, and grandfather, Joe Giambra help him manage his academics and athletics.
“(My family) are my number one fans. We all support each other,” Powers said. “They’re a huge part of my life.”
According to Powers, his grandfather has been a major help as he enters the college selection process.
“My grandfather’s a huge college nut. We’ll go vacation and we’ll just drive through a campus. The fact that he is willing to help me get into a college that fits me is an absolute blessing.”
Powers returns the favor by coaching his little brother, Eric, in little league football. The lineman has even asked and was given permission to leave practice early a few times to do so.
“My little brother looks up to me and he wants to be like me. I have to set an example,” said Powers, who noted that coaching might be in his future. “He has an ADHD problem so when coaches yell at him he’ll throw tantrums and get really upset. I can sit him down and he’ll listen to me. Kids like that I can coach really well.”
The thought of going to a private school or a football powerhouse has crossed his mind, but Powers feels a calling to stay at Lew-Port.
During his freshman year, Powers went out to the field for special team warm-ups before a home game. The modified team was finishing up practice and the coach came up to him.
“He told me that the modified kids wanted to meet me and they were so excited,” Powers said. “They all looked up to me and I thought, ‘I can’t give up on this program,’ I had to show them that hard work and dedication will make this program better.”
He is, Powers has committed himself to the Lew-Port football program promising to do whatever it takes to get the team to the next level.
“My goal is to the lead this team to wherever it can go,” Powers said. “Whether it’s this year or the future my goal is to always keep this program moving forward.”
Almost a decade after being told he couldn’t play, Powers has proven he will do whatever it takes to continue playing the game he loves for as long as he can.