LAMBERT — Richey-Lambert senior quarterback Gabe Gonsioroski has been playing with a heavy heart since his cousin Luke Gonsioroski passed away from cancer in August of 2017. Gabe's #LukeStrong bracelet can be seen on his left wrist as he leads the Fusion offense up and down the field.
"He just means a lot to me. He was just probably my best friend," Gabe Gonsioroski said. "Losing him was really hard, but I try to play every game like it's my last and like it's for him. It just gives me that little extra."
Slinging the rock apparently runs in the family. Luke was a standout quarterback at Baker and eventually committed to Texas Tech. Gabe, though, wasn't sold on the position. It was a push from Luke, however, that got him started.
"When I was a sixth grader he was like, 'Try out at quarterback, man, maybe you'll be good.' I was like, 'I don't know.' So I tried out and then I figured out I was pretty natural throwing the ball," Gabe Gonsioroski said. "He worked with me a lot. Luke's a natural thrower of the ball, but he learned a lot over the years. Just him helping me a lot, it just helped a tremendous amount."
Gabe certainly seems to possess that natural throwing ability, too, and it has turned Richey-Lambert into one of the most prolific 6-Man offenses in the state.
"He knows our offense very well, so that's nice," Richey-Lambert head coach Shawn Lien said. "Our playbook is very deep with Gabe in there. When we have him back there throwing the football, we feel we've got a great chance in every game."
"Over the years you just build and build until you've got the confidence to just know where your wide receivers are, just put it up and trust that they're going to get it no matter what. It's a faith thing, I guess," Gonsioroski said.
Gonsioroski and the Richey-Lambert offense have lit up the scoreboard, averaging 60 points per game over the first three weeks. Richey-Lambert will need Gonsioroski and company to stay hot, as the Fusion will face the other three 2018 playoff teams from the East in three consecutive weeks.
"It'll kind of let us know how tough we are, how well we can handle things, because not everything is going to go well against the (Westby-Grenoras), Wibaux, the Jordans -- especially Jordan. They're a different animal," Gonsioroski said.
Richey-Lambert's schedule is among the toughest in the state. The Fusion opened up with wins over 2018 playoff teams Geraldine-Highwood, White Sulphur Springs and Roy-Winifred. Six of Richey-Lambert's nine games this season are against 2018 playoff teams.
Gonsioroski and the Fusion will hit the road this week to take on defending 6-Man state champion Wibaux on Saturday at 1 p.m. Wibaux won last year's game 56-16.