Relatively new to the sport, Kwabena Amponsah continues to make strides on the football field as he reaches for the American dream.
The 5-foot-11, 231-pound defensive lineman for Dublin Coffman High School moved with his family from the African nation of Ghana when he was 6 years old, and he didn't play football until he was in eighth grade.
"I was seeing how much fun my friends were having together on the field, which is why I was drawn to the sport," said Amponsah, a senior. "The camaraderie is great in this sport."
Amponsah moved to the United States with his father, Oheneba, and mother, Faustina, as well as his sophomore brother Kwasi and freshman brother Kofi. Kwasi plays football at Coffman and Kofi plays basketball.
"We came over for the opportunities that you have over here," said Amponsah, who has a 3.4 GPA and wants to have a medical-related career. "My parents are big into academics and you can't beat the schooling in the United States."
In his short time playing football, Amponsah has impressed Shamrocks coach Mark Crabtree.
In the first two games this season, he has three tackles for loss and a sack.
"Kwabena is one of the finest young men I've been around," said Crabtree, whose team fell to 1-1 after losing to Dublin Scioto 30-17 on Sept. 6. "He has a limited football background, but has developed into a great player. He had a very good junior year, and he's building on that now."
Amponsah, who started out in eighth grade as a two-way lineman and punter, said football wasn't an easy game to pick up.
"Probably the hardest part was learning all of the calls and the techniques," he said. "Even now, it's a new game to me. I'm still learning a lot about the game."
On Friday, Sept. 13, Amponsah and his teammates will have an opportunity to play at Fawcett Stadium, which is adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The game against Canton McKinley will include a 75th anniversary celebration of the stadium.
"I've been there and seen the field, but I haven't been on it," Amponsah said. "It should be a fun experience and I'm really looking forward to it."
McKinley improved to 2-0 by defeating London (Ontario) Sir Frederick Banting 35-0 on Sept. 7. The Bulldogs also defeated Akron Buchtel 35-0 on Aug. 30.
Leading the way for McKinley is junior quarterback Eric Glover-Williams, who has verbally committed to Ohio State. The 5-10, 155-pounder has rushed for 236 yards and four touchdowns and is 9-for-17 passing for 130 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
"When you're up against a running quarterback like that, you have to just follow our basic alignments and stay in rushing and passing lanes," Amponsah said. "It all comes down to fundamentals."
McKinley senior running back Jarrod Smith (6-0, 190) has rushed for 215 yards and four touchdowns.