Senior Spotlight: David Sanarov

  • Voznesnka senior David Sanarov waves to the crowd during a senior night ceremony before the team’s Sept. 15, 2017 game at the Homer High School football field in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Senior Cougars player David Sanarov tackles Homer Mariners quarterback Teddy Croft during their game Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 at the Mariner field in Homer, Alaska. Homer topped the Cougars 53-0 in the last game from the Head of the Bay team made up of Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak-Selo. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Voznesenka senior David Sanarov gives flowers to his mother during the senior night celebration before the Cougars football game against Nikiski High School on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Senior David Sanarov runs the ball for the Head of the Bay Cougars during their game against Monroe Catholic High School on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 at the Homer Mariners field in Homer, Alaska. The Fairbanks team crushed the Cougars 26-0. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Led by seniors David Sanarov (26), Nikit Anufriev (55) and Dimitry Kuzmin (66), the Head of the Bay Cougars shake hands with the Homer Mariner varsity football team after their game Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 at the Mariner field in Homer, Alaska. It was the last game for the Cougars this season, and the very last game for the team’s three seniors. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
  • Senior offensive lineman and linebacker David Sanarov raises his hands in frustration watching his team from the sideline while taking a rest during the Cougar football game against Nikiski High School on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 in Homer, Alaska. The Cougars were defeated 18-40 in their second game of the season. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

If there’s one thing you couldn’t get away with calling Head of the Bay Cougars defensive lineman and running back David Sanarov, it’s lazy.

It’s been a big year for the senior from Voznesenka School. He was voted defensive player of the year for the Division III conference, and was chosen as a first-team inside linebacker and a second-team return specialist in all-state balloting released Monday.

Sanarov’s defensive player of the year recognition is a repeat from last year, when he received the same honor in Division III conference voting for the first time as a junior. Even though Sanarov said he worked on the team with those honors in his mind as a goal, they all came as a surprise.

“My brothers were like, ‘Are they sure they got the right person?’” Sanarov joked.

His brothers weren’t actually all that surprised, he said, given that they’ve watched how hard he’s been playing. They played football before him, and he said he comes from a sports-oriented family. Though he watched his brothers play football growing up, he’d never played it himself until he stepped onto the field as a freshman with the Cougars.

Sanarov didn’t have any specific positions in mind when he started playing football, but has more than come into his own, especially as a defensive player.

“My coach showed me the way,” he said. “… Being a linebacker and being a running back is the best job there is.”

Finding the way wasn’t always easy. As a member of one of the Russian Old Believer villages, football was balanced with the many responsibilities young men have in their home lives, like chores and religious practice and holy days. The Cougars have a bye week when most other conference teams have their first game to account for many of the team’s players still being out commercial fishing with their families.

Balancing work with football was a compromise worked out within his family, Sanarov said of the game.

“It’s worth it because it actually helps you in life,” he said.

Sanarov said joining football teaches teamwork and how to place one’s trust in others.

More than the work-play balance, figuring out how to be part of the team and play the game were learning curves for the senior. It can be that way for a lot of players who are from a community where football is not a priority, head coach Justin Zank told the Homer News in a previous interview.

“The hardest part was becoming a football player,” Sanarov said.

Being from a small, tight knit community can also have its advantages on the field, though. Sanarov said that playing for the Cougars is very unique compared to the other teams on the Kenai Peninsula, as the players see each other day in and day out in school and in their villages. They share an extremely close bond.

“The most memorable one is everybody on the team. They’re like family to me,” he said of his time playing football.

Playing for the Cougars also means a lot more work just to keep up with other conference teams. With anywhere from 12-14 players at any given game of 11-man football, Sanarov and his teammates are often working harder in both directions for the duration of a game.

Looking back over his high school football career, Sanarov said the major change he’s seen in himself is growing confidence.

“I became less scared,” he said. “I just wanted to make my coach proud.”

Now that he’ll no longer be on the team, Sanarov said he’d like to see them do better going forward. He hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’ll stay in the Voznesenka and Homer area following high school, he said, but he’s thought about helping out the team as an alum if he’s around in the future.

At the end of the day, Sanarov’s football and high school careers are a testament to what a little hard work will do.

“I played my heart out,” he said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@homernews.com.

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