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COURTESY PHOTO

Fauquier defensive lineman Kyle Dargis began his FHS football career as a kicker. “I was teased about being a kicker. I totally understand. I wanted to try something else,” he said about converting to linebacker, tight end and D-line.

He wasn’t the man who saved Fauquier Football, but he sure helped.

Defensive lineman Kyle Dargis was part of a core group that helped the Falcons go 4-6 in 2019 and restore pride in the program and community after the 0-10 season in 2018. 

Dargis saved a 14-13 win over Heritage by blocking an extra-point attempt and finished his senior year with 10 sacks. A fixture on the FHS basketball team and set to throw the discus in track, Dargis is Fauquier Times 2020 Fauquier High Boys Athlete of the Year.

Coaches loved Dargis.

“Kyle is a very dedicated, determined and disciplined young man. He was always eager and willing to accept any role put in front of him,” said FHS football coach Karl Buckwalter. “He utilized his speed and tenacity to flourish on our d-line and as a tight end on offense. He came up with big plays in games as well.”

Basketball coach Wayne Brizzi loves a dedicated player, and Dargis was that, showing up at 5 a.m. for drills with Brizzi. Dargis would then shower, go to church, and come back for classes. “Kyle was an important part of the starting lineup and a team leader who could always be counted upon both in and out of the gymnasium. He was a great inside defensive player for us and led the team in charges taken,” said Brizzi. 

Dargis’ senior highlight was his blocked extra point to save a win that seemed to be slipping away. “You could see the team deflate a bit, but not Kyle. He said later he had only one thought in that moment: ‘This game stops here, right now.’ I was in awe,” said his father, Mark.

Kyle still can’t believe no one blocked him.

“I lined up between two guys. One guy was pointed to the guy next to me and the other guy was pointed to the guy next to him. No one was pointed at me. I got so excited. When they said ‘Hike,’ it opened like a gate,” said Dargis. “I ran to the kicker, jumped in front and it hit a finger on my left hand. It was such a mistake. No one touched me.”

Dargis had a 51-yard fumble return for a TD in a loss to Millbrook. “That play was exciting; I’ve never run that far in my life,” he said. He also recalls a morale-lifting blindside sack of quarterback Dylan Bailey in the Liberty game. “Their two linemen were arguing after the play. That was awesome.”

Along with his 10 sacks, Dargis had 14 hurries, 4 forced fumbles and 56 tackles. “He was a real force on the line,” said Buckwalter.

The phrase “Little Big Man” fit Dargis to a T. He was lighter than the average lineman at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, and had to battle bigger men in hoops. 

He was new to football when he came to FHS. A former soccer player, he played only kicker as a freshman, mostly on JV. He transitioned to tight end and linebacker as a sophomore, playing JV. “It was a slow progression. I never thought I’d be where I was senior year,” he said.

His junior year saw Dargis’ first real varsity field time at linebacker, tight end and occasional kicker. 

He was moved to the defensive line as a senior, where he was vastly undersized and raw.

He had no idea what to do at first but gave coach Jason Burke and fellow lineman Bobby Slater props for teaching him one or two basic moves. “Coach Choppy (Burke) told me to attack the offensive lineman’s shoulder and hold your spot. Bobby told me to take their left hand, shove their shoulder and spear yourself through. I did that 97 percent of the time, or else tried to beat them with quicker feet,” Dargis said.

“I would say I’m not a hard hitter but a good tackler. The short, stocky running back might move me back, but I’ll hold on and they’ll go down. I was not worried about the flashy play, just make the tackle,” he said.

Dargis’ basketball journey followed a different course. After playing from fourth through eighth grade at St. John the Evangelist, he came into Fauquier confident, then barely played on the freshman team: “It was a punch in the gut; I wanted to quit,” said Dargis.

He received encouragement from coach Charles Lewis as a sophomore and played a prominent role on JV that year, setting the stage for his breakout as a junior. Rusty from football and wanting to get better, he said he began getting up at 4:15 a.m., and meeting with Brizzi for drills at 5. Then he’d shower, go to morning mass at 6:30 a.m. at St. John, and come back to school.

It paid off as Dargis averaged 10 points a game with solid rebound and assist totals and plenty of floor time in the latter part of the year. “I was playing so well due to the extra work. Coach Lewis said if I played like that the whole year I would have been on the all-district list,” said Dargis.

As a senior, FHS dictated no one could come to school before 7 a.m., ending his workouts. “I did not catch up, ever,” he said.

“Offensively, he was a solid shooter with an average of 47% overall and 70% from the foul line,” Brizzi said.

Said Dargis, “I had good games, but not as consistent. I drew charges, got rebounds. I was guarding big guys and playing my role,” he said.

He said the season’s end was surprisingly emotional. “Basketball is more personal. It’s 12 guys, not 100. Coach Brizzi is a one-of-a-kind coach. It was really sad. I forgot how much I care about basketball.”

Dargis was set to re-join the track team in the spring as a discus thrower, but the pandemic took care of that. "The way Kyle works, I think he would have gotten even better," said coach Quentin Jones. "Kyle was always there working his butt off. He was a guy who would spend the extra time. To learn the discus in two years, you've got to put the throws in."

Now his focus is preparing for VMI, where he and pal Bobby Slater will try to make the Keydets football team as walk-ons. It was the only school Dargis applied to. “I’m expecting VMI to be rough and hard,” said Dargis, who has beefed up to 210 with a summer of weightlifting, working at a farm and at Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville. 

What career will Dargis, who also served as Student Council Association President, choose after VMI? He doesn’t have any specific thoughts, but his parents aren’t worried.

“He is intrinsically motivated, focused and disciplined,” said his mother, Melissa. “Kyle’s hard work, dedication and leadership are an inspiration.”

 

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