When Marian needed a big play on defense this year, it looked to Lukas Damian.

When the Colts needed stability on offense because of several key injuries, the team again turned to Damian.

Each time, the senior responded with stellar play that ultimately helped Marian overcome an 0-3 start and claim the Eastern Conference Class A title.

Damian's efforts didn't go unnoticed, as he earned TIMES NEWS Defensive Player of the Year, Anthracite Football League Defensive Player of the Year and Class A All-State honors.

Those achievements caught the attention of more than a few scouts on the recruiting trail.

On Wednesday morning, Damian made the decision on his playing future official by signing with Duquesne, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision Program, formerly known as Division I-AA.

Much like his other accolades, Damian took this one in stride and with great humility.

"This process has really made me mature," he said. "Sometimes with all the media attention and hype, it's easy to get a big head.

"I give a lot of credit to my friends, family and the staff and administration here at Marian for helping me keep a level head."

With schools such as Sacred Heart, Bloomsburg and Assumption showing interest, the senior certainly had no shortage of options while going through the process.

But Damian accepted a full scholarship to Duquesne for its academics as much as its athletics.

"I really wanted to find a school that would fit my nursing schedule," he said of his intended major. "Nursing has been a passion of mine for a very long time now. I really wanted to find a school where I could juggle both of those."

But juggling a number of responsibilities is something Damian is familiar with.

The senior played tight end, quarterback, and split end on offense, all while maintaining a high level of play at linebacker, where he tallied 163 tackles this past season.

That ability to play all over the field coupled with a willingness to do whatever was best for the team drew high praise from head coach Stan Dakosty.

"Lukas has been a leader on this football team and the heart and soul of this football team," the coach said. "When we were 0-3, he was one of the guys that held us together, playing outstanding football.

"But he did it in the classroom also, and he's a great example of what a student-athlete is all about. He was able to show that to our underclassmen; this is how you work; this is how you play; and this is what we're all about here (at Marian)."

While he may have played a number of different positions during his career at Marian, one thing never changed: Damian was always on the field.

But heading into a new situation at Duquesne, he understands his role may not be clear right away.

"I started every year here (at Marian)," Damian said. "So I don't really have a feel for how it is to sit on the sidelines and watch a game, other than being injured.

"But coach Dakosty prepared me for that. He told me that I won't be the biggest; I won't be the fastest; I won't be the strongest. But I'm looking forward to that challenge, and that's why I want to play college football."

It's that relentless work ethic and desire to succeed that gives Dakosty high expectations for Damian at the next level.

"It's a great I-AA program," Dakosty said of Duquesne, which went 7-4 this past season. "They open up at (Division I) Buffalo, and they have transfers from Purdue and Arizona on their roster.

"He knows that he's really going to have to work hard and work his way up from the freshman ranks to get himself into a playing situation. But there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will."