Casey Kacz helped lead the Sweet Home Panthers to a perfect 13-0 record and a state championship while completing 68-percent of his passes for 1,647 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions in his senior year.
In the Kensington All-Star High School Game, Casey Kacz was named the North team’s offensive MVP. Fellow Buff State teammate Mike Doherty received the Spirit award in the same game.
After former high school state champion quarterback Casey Kacz decided to commit to Division II Chowan University instead of Buffalo State two years ago, the Bengals thought that they would never hear from him again.
However, Kacz was redshirted in his first season with the Hawks and after making unsuccessful transfer to Division II Edinboro University, this time as a backup; he decided to call head coach Jerry Boyes to talk about the possibility of returning home to play for Buffalo State in front of his friends and family for the first time since high school.
“He called and quite frankly, I didn’t even know he was at Edinboro,” Boyes said. “Once someone makes their decision and moves on, they’ve made a decision. When he told me he was at Edinboro, it was a little bit of a surprise to me because I didn’t know that. He called one day and I said great, we have a meeting coming up, I’ll see you there.”
The last time Kacz had played in Western New York was back in 2008 with state champion Sweet Home High School where he completed 68-percent of his passes for 1,647 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions that year. He also helped lead the Panthers to a perfect 13-0 record to go along with his 23-1 record as a varsity starter.
With those high school glory days far behind him, Kacz came to Buffalo State in hope of finally landing an opportunity to start at the college level, but when he first joined the Bengals, Ryan Lehotsky was already the starting quarterback.
Once again, Kacz had to begin another season as a backup and learn his fourth different playbook in as many years.
This time though, he had a friend in wide receiver Mike Doherty who could help him learn the playbook and become more comfortable with the team. They used to play little league football together for TTFA and played in the Kensington High School All-Star game where Kacz was named offensive MVP on the North team.
“It established a comfort level because I knew a couple of guys’ names coming in, but I wasn’t really that close with anyone,” Kacz said. “Coming in and seeing a face that I knew made me more relaxed and comfortable in the offense because I could ask him questions and know that he was going to be on the same page as me right away. I still knew what kind of receiver he was and where he liked the ball and stuff so we clicked right away.”
After Buffalo State opened their season 1-3, the Bengals decided to make the quarterback change from Lehotsky to Kacz. They finished the season winning four of their last six games to reach a .500 record for the first time since 2000.
Kacz finished the season completing 122 of his 205 passes for 1,532 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also ran for 359 yards and six touchdowns on 71 attempts.
Since the end of last season, Kacz has been determined to take the Bengals to the next level and has often been seen after practices working with his receivers. His dedication to winning has certainly rubbed off on some of his teammates.
“Having him staying after practice like this every day to work on his stuff with his wide receivers is the difference maker right now,” three-year left guard Josh Jesonowski said. “Last year we weren’t staying out afterwards, but now we have the drive to win the conference championship and then the national championship.”
With spring practices coming to an end this week, it’s clear that Kacz has emerged as Buffalo State’s opening day starting quarterback heading into the 2012 season. He’s become more comfortable as a result too, now that he knows that he’s earned the respect of his teammates.
“Going into next season will be my second year with the program which is something new in college, said Kacz. “It’s definitely going to make the fall a lot easier, having this past season to look back on to look at mistakes and what we did well. I think it’s a lot easier now that I have more respect from guys on the team because when you transfer in at first, you’re kind of like the new guy. Now that I have a year under the belt, guys know what they expect of me and it’s a lot easier to lead.”