This week’s guest has morphed into one of the best offensive linemen in the Metroplex, has received seven scholarship offers and counting this spring and is the anchor of the McKinney North offensive line.
Please get comfortable and relax for the McKinney Courier-Gazette’s Sunday Spotlight conversation with Bulldogs senior center Austin Markiewicz.
Why do your friends, family members and teammates all call you “Big Hoss”?
Markiewicz: The name “Hoss” has been around a long time. I think it came from family members calling me “Aus” and friends changing that to “Hoss.”
The name stuck when coaches and teachers started using it. Now even family members use it more than “Austin” – it’s funny to hear people who don’t know me refer to me as “Big Hoss.”
How have you improved all-around as an offensive lineman since North’s loss in the bi-district round of the playoffs last year?
Markiewicz: The bus ride home from Lufkin was a long one. Our team realized at that point we were very close to being something very special.
We were a freak play away from being in the lead at halftime against a team that was ranked No. 1 last year – in their house. As soon as the season ended, we as a team were very motivated to improve and that commitment showed up in the weight room and offseason program.
Our team is returning a number of players with significant experience that are committed to getting better. With the help of our coaches, our lifting program has taken us to a whole new level.
I, along with a number of others on the team, have significantly increased our max lifts and I truly believe this will show on Friday nights this fall. This team is tight with common goals to get much deeper in the playoffs this year.
There has been a huge amount of work put in by this team since last November by both players and coaches. People don’t realize all the mornings that start at 6 a.m. for this team.
I really feel that this team has a work ethic and leadership that will result in wins.
Describe your excitement after receiving scholarship offers from Tulsa, Texas State, Abilene Christian University, Houston Baptist University and other schools this spring.
Markiewicz: I am extremely honored and humbled to have received seven [Division I] offers so far. All my offers mean a lot to me.
It’s a very exciting time, but I am focused on helping this team get better and win titles. I want to take some time to learn about these schools and programs before any decisions are made.
I am still hearing from coaches on a daily basis and believe that my recruitment is far from over.
What does it mean to you to be looked up to as the anchor of a very talented North offensive line next season?
Markiewicz: Since my sophomore year, I have had the opportunity to play with some great players on the varsity line. I have learned a lot about leadership, hard work and the importance of this position to our team’s success.
Most importantly, I have developed a great relationship with coach (Kendall) Brewer. Coach Brewer has taught me a ton about football and about being physical, playing smart and all the way to the whistle. I think we trust each other, which helps me lead on the field. I believe the guys we have on the offensive line this season will be as good as North has ever had.
How does blocking for your twin brother, Dillon, who happens to be North’s quarterback, inspire you to execute your blocks on every play?
Markiewicz: It’s a lot of fun playing with my brother and really special this year as I work with him at center. We have both always been very competitive against each other except when on the football field.
I realize not many other people have the opportunity to play with your brother this way. Our team’s success depends on each other this year more than ever before.
I have a ton of confidence in Dillon and know our offense is stacked with skilled players. More than any other year I have been here, our passing game should be explosive.
Dillon has huge targets like Brandon Frazier, Noah Ford, JJ Henry and Dillon Frazier. When not passing, I have a huge amount of confidence that we will clear the path for Manny Fincher to take it to the house on the ground.
Dillon and all these players have had to chance to play together last year in some big games. The big five upfront will make sure we get the job done.
Who has had the most impact on you as a football player and a person?
Markiewicz: It’s really hard to say just one person. Both my mom and dad have been so supportive of me on and off the field.
There is no bigger fan of me and my brother than my mom. Win, lose or draw my mom is always supportive and ready for next Friday.
My dad has driven hundreds of miles to get us to camps to get us recruited. Dillon and I would not be able to do what we do without them.
How excited are to have a magical senior season with a tight-knit group of senior friends that has been winning since elementary school?
Markiewicz: I am part of a special group on this team that has had a chance to play football together since we were in second grade. Carson Criss, Cade Pratt, Brandon Frazier, Dillon and I have been playing football together for 10 years now.
I think we were undefeated playing together all through youth football, middle school and even our freshman year. This core group is very special to me and our program.
We have a special relationship and have learned how to compete and battle together. We have dreamed about this season for many years. We want to take this team to places they have never been before.
Take the district, go deep in the playoffs and maybe even get to state. It is a lot of fun seeing each other grow up and succeed around each other.
What would it mean to you to commit to a top-notch university, win a district title and go on a deep playoff run next season?
Markiewicz: I really believe we have the right players, coaches and preparation to take the district title this fall. Winning the district is my first priority and focus. Our coaches talk about this team being special and having what it takes to win big this year. They talk about it all the time. This team believes it too.
There is no better feeling than sharing that level of confidence with teammates. That is our focus now. We want to be a top seed going into the playoffs. At that time, we will reset for a deep playoff run with home games at the McKinney ISD Dawg House.
As for additional offers and a commitment, that stuff will take care of itself. It’s a blessing to have these options, but it is not going to get in the way of our team success and preparation for the season. If anything, it is motivating.