Nevarez, KU enjoying big season
Kutztown’s Nyiem Nevarez (14) returns a kickoff during a recent game. Nevarez is also a second-team All-PSAC defensive back for the 10-win Golden Bears, who will open NCAA Division II playoff action on Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY
Pleasant Valley grad Dean Krcic is the punter and kicker for Kutztown.
Lehighton grad Cody Scherer is a defensive back for the Golden Bears.
The 2019 season has been a successful and historic campaign for the nationally-ranked Kutztown University football team.
The Golden Bears (10-1 overall) started 10-0 for the first time in program history, before falling to eighth-ranked and unbeaten Slippery Rock, 37-35, in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship game last weekend.
But the year didn’t end in defeat, as KU earned the second seed in the Division II Super Region I bracket of the NCAA Tournament. This marks the Golden Bears’ fourth appearance all-time (2010, 2011, 2018, 2019) in the NCAA Tournament. KU was defeated by Hillsdale, 40-26, in last year’s opening round. This year, they host Tiffin University from Ohio on Saturday at Andre Reed Stadium.
Three student-athletes that wear Maroon and Gold are local products. Redshirt-senior Nyiem Nevarez, and redshirt-junior Dean Krcic, are from Pleasant Valley, while Cody Scherer is a Lehighton graduate,
Nevarez has made it his best one going out. He recently earned All-PSAC Second Team honors as a defensive back. He’s totaled 40 tackles, seven passes defended (second on KU) and has career highs in tackles-for-loss (4.5) and interceptions (2).
Nevarez has played in 39 games in his four years at Kutztown, starting all 11 this season. He’s also a major contributor on special teams as a kick returner, averging 27.3 yards on 26 attempts. His longest return went for 72 yards, and last season he took one 99 yards for a touchdown.
“I just try to play to my best ability to help my team win,” said Nevarez, who is a Dean’s List member and will graduate in December with a degree in sociology. “Last year, I rotated and was more of a role player, so I learned a lot. Over the summer, I worked hard in the weight room, out on the field improving my footwork, and just studying film to gain more knowledge on the game.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could get a starting position in my senior year. We have a good defensive back group, and it’s an amazing feeling knowing we’ve been a part of history here this year with 10 wins in a row.”
Nevarez, along with Scherer, a sophomore defensive back, have played big roles for a Kutztown defense that ranks fourth in the PSAC, allowing just 17.6 points per game. It’s been something that the defensive unit has been proud of.
“As a defense, you always pride yourself on being on the ball and not allowing points,” Nevarez said.
“We focus on being 1-0 every week, and that’s our main goal. We’ve been doing a good job of that.”
Scherer has also stepped up this year, seeing a high uptick in playing time. He has played in 10-of-11 games, and tallied 38 tackles.
“It’s nice to be able to go out and play football again,” said Scherer. “I’ve had some decent games [this season], but I still have a lot to improve on individually. This team is special and we’ve accomplished a ton, but we aren’t done yet. I’m lucky to be a part of a program like this.”
Krcic has adapted to a bigger workload this season. The Saylorsburg native is a two-time All-PSAC selection and a 2017 Don Hansen Gazette All-Region third team selection as a punter. This year he has also taken over kicking duties, connecting on 45 extra points and adding a 30-yard field goal. Krcic has nearly 5,000 total yards (4,998) of punting net, which ranks sixth all-time in KU history.
“I’ve wanted to do both since I got here,” said Krcic about kicking and punting. “I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I would be at first, but during the middle of the season I changed everything; ways I warmed up, ways I practiced. I feel like I’ve finally been able to grasp what it takes to do both at a successful level.
“Being a part of this team and this season is something special. I’m so happy I’m able to contribute, whether I’m a kicker or not.”
The Kutztown trio hopes to continue their special 2019 season into the second round with a win over Tiffin on Saturday.