The public address announcer reading Polk County’s list of captains paused as he reached the final name.
“And Devin P,” the announcer intoned.
While the correct pronunciation of Devin Panchyshyn’s name may be a puzzle to some (it’s PAN-shuh-shun), rest assured that Polk County opponents know well the senior’s name.
When the Wolverines take the field Friday for their first-round 1AA playoff game with North Rowan (7:30 p.m., G.M. Tennant Stadium), Panchyshyn will be in his usual spots on Polk’s offensive and defensive lines, just as the two-time all-conference performer (and likely a third this season) has been throughout his four seasons at Polk County.
“He never comes off the field,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “He’s tougher than pig iron. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid.
“His character and his work ethic are unmatched. He’s a class act and a leader of this football team. You could win a lot of high school football games with guys like Devin Panchyshyn.”
Panchyshyn has done his part to help the Wolverines win football games through his love of the grind that is being a two-way lineman. He has played on the lines, in the trenches, since his youth football days, coming to relish being in a position where fame is usually fleeting, especially on the offensive side.
“I just like the simple fact that I can dominate the person in front of me,” Panchyshyn said. “There’s also a mental aspect to it as well as a physical aspect.”
Polk County’s center most of this season, Panchyshyn is responsible for making sure the rest of the Wolverine line is prepared to block the right places and opponents before he snaps the ball. It’s an especially important role in the veer offense that Polk County runs and means Panchyshyn stays busy from the time the Wolverines leave the huddle until the end of each play.
“It’s knowing what guys and gaps everyone is responsible for,” Panchyshyn said. “Being the center, I have to talk to my teammates on the left and right and make sure everyone is set and knows where they’re going. Being the quarterback of the offensive line is how I describe it.”
Laboring on the offensive and defensive lines is often a thankless task, with recognition often only coming when a mistake is made. But in his four seasons on both units, Panchyshyn has found an unexpected reward that extends beyond the field.
“These are the best guys to be with,” he said. “Most of them I’ve played with since youth league, and they’re my best friends. I’ve had great teammates who have always supported me and great coaches who have supported me.”
An excellent student, Panchyshyn hopes to continue his career at the college level and has talked with several coaches throughout the season. Both Ollis and Panchyshyn think an opportunity will present itself for the senior to extend his playing days.
Whenever his career does come to an end, Ollis also thinks Panchyshyn could choose to remain involved in the sport if he so chooses.
“I think he’d make a great coach,” Ollis said. “He’s had to bust his tail and work his fingers to the bone to be a great player, and those guys usually make the best coaches.
“One of the best things about him, other than his work ethic, is his dependability. His teammates voted him captain. He’s just a do-everything guy.”