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Sharp prepares to wrap up big season, Baldwin football career

Evelyn Esek
Standout running back senior Andrew Sharp has scored 15 touchdowns and rushed for 850 yards this season.

When senior Andrew Sharp was about 8 years old, he attended his first Penn State “White Out” football game. 

“I always dreamed about what it would be like to be on that field. There are 110,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs from the stands, all for you,” Sharp said. 

As a standout running back for the Baldwin Highlanders football team, Sharp has gotten to experience the feeling of playing under the lights, scoring 15 touchdowns and rushing for 850 yards this season alone. 

Social studies teacher and running backs coach Chris Reilsono has worked with Sharp for three years, and he has admired Sharp’s toughness on the field. 

“He has played through countless adversities. There has never been a time where he hasn’t given everything that he has on the field,” Reilsono said. “It’s something that I respect and am grateful for.”

Sharp has been a team captain for two years. In addition to going out for the coin toss at the beginning of the game, he also chooses to use this role to instill good communication within the team.  

“I like to say we are the mouthpiece between the players and the coaches,” Sharp said. “They say the broad thing, but we really break it down and make sure that (players) are on task and know what to do.”

Senior Mwango Kasuba has known Sharp since the fifth grade and has played football with him for three years. 

“He brings a lot of energy to the team. He always gets us hype during pregame with the pregame chant clap we have. Even off the field, he’s a good friend and a good teammate,” Kasuba said. 

Kasuba added that Sharp is always committed to football. 

“During the offseason, he’d come to all the workouts we would have, like team ones or senior ones,” he said. “I’ve definitely seen him work hard at those.”

Sharp says that on game day, he is calm and collected.

“Warm-ups are when the adrenaline hits me. I’m super excited and I can’t feel a thing. That’s like the best feeling,” he said.

Once the game starts, Sharp concentrates on the task at hand. 

“My mind just goes clear. Honestly, whenever I have the ball, I just don’t remember what happens after. I can’t hear anything either, unless it’s a coach or a teammate,” Sharp said. 

Reilsono knows what Sharp is talking about.

“We call it ‘the zone,’ ” Reilsono said. “You are processing so much information that you are becoming hyper-focused. We communicate through that – we can read each other and can adjust accordingly.”

Sharp said the atmosphere and setting can make or break a game. 

“It really depends on the night. When we played at Peters last year, the sky was pink. I usually don’t notice much other than the game. That was the first time that I actually noticed the sky. Some nights, on Friday nights, the sky is so beautiful,” he said.

Everything comes to an end, but it really does hit hard that it is ending. I try to think about living in the now, absorbing what’s around you now.

— Andrew Sharp

Sharp credits the rest of the team with his success. 

“I wouldn’t have scored without the rest of the team. Without the (offensive line), I would not have had all of these yards,” Sharp said. “They’re the only reason I have all of these touchdowns. Football really is a team game.”

Sharp also believes new Head Coach Dana Brown has helped him this year and will provide results for the team in the future. 

“I think he’s a really good coach. I think that after this year and next year, he is going to build a better program,” Sharp said. “He knows a lot and has a really good coaching staff.” 

He chose his jersey number, 31, because it was his father’s number in high school. 

“Ever since I was little, we see the number everywhere – 31 means more to me than just wearing any old number,” he said. 

He has also noticed that the youth football players see him as a role model. 

“They will come up to me and be like. ‘Oh my gosh, you’re 31. Oh my gosh, you’re Andrew Sharp.’ They will take pictures and some will ask for autographs,” he said. 

Last year, Sharp was voted WPIAL First Team All-Conference. The award is voted on by coaches in the conference. 

“His name was one of the first names brought up, as being the best out of all of the running backs that teams had seen last year,” Reilsono said.

In terms of his future plans, Sharp is still undecided. If he were to go to college, he would study business and get a business degree, and possibly plan to work at his father’s insurance agency.

As for playing football in college, “it really depends on how I finish this season, and if coaches start to look at me,” he said. “I’d really play anywhere, and be open to any opportunity.”

On Friday, Baldwin lines up against Moon for the final game of the season, and for Sharp’s final game as a Highlander. 

“Everything comes to an end, but it really does hit hard that it is ending. I try to think about living in the now, absorbing what’s around you now. But I have been playing with my brothers for years and years. It’s crazy to think that I won’t hit the field with them all again. It’s a lot of different emotions,” he said. 

Sharp said that while he does not have a specific favorite play in his career, he has made lasting connections with his teammates and has enjoyed the experience of playing football. 

“I love every moment,” he said. “It’s the whole reason I play the game.”

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Evelyn Esek
Evelyn Esek, News Editor
News Editor Evelyn Esek is a senior and a third-year member of the Purbalite. She is in the BHS color guard and loves knitting and crocheting, collecting vinyl records, and listening to music.
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