Staff Photo: John Bohn Rocky Capobianco is a senior running back/quarterback for Dacula. Capobianco accepts the responsibility of also playing other positions for Dacula football this season.
DACULA -- Born Vincent Peter Capobianco, those names get little attention.
Everyone calls the Dacula senior Rocky and few venture an attempt at his last name.
"I am usually on a first-name basis," Capobianco said.
His given name and his moniker are a compromise between mother and father. Dad wanted his son named Rocky. Mom owned veto power.
"Peter means 'The Rock' and (my dad) called me Rocky," Capobianco said. "I've been Rocky all my life."
Capobianco gets a lot of "Yo, Rocky" shouts and even some "Yo, Adrians," but he smiles them away. And when he plays football, Capobianco lives the only name he knows.
At 5-foot-9, the quarterback/running back doesn't sniff 200 pounds. His last growth spurt happened between eighth and ninth grade and another one never followed. But for three years, he's been an offensive force for Dacula. He's put together a career of running between the tackles and breaking through defenders, willing his way down field. He takes plenty of hits, but he's never knocked out.
He topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark against Berkmar last Friday, when he rushed for 286 yards on only 21 carries.
"It's tough being small out there with all those big guys running around," Capobianco said. "I just have to tell myself to keep getting up. I know it is going to hurt before the game, but I am always mentally ready before each game to take some hits and hopefully give some, too."
Around Dacula, the coaches and players joke that there are two different Capobiancos. There's Vinny, the quiet student and player during the week. Never saying too much. Then, on Fridays, there's Rocky.
"On Fridays he's a guy who runs his mouth a little bit to get everybody excited," head coach Jared Zito said.
Capobianco accepts the description.
"I don't really say much at practice or out of practice. But when the game comes, it's like I have a switch when I put that helmet on," he said. "It's game time. My blood starts boiling a little bit, I get out there on the field and that first play goes and it's on from there."
Capobianco started playing football in the Gwinnett Football League at Rhodes Jordan Park in Lawrenceville at 6 years old. He played defense. He always played defense. Quick and fearless, the position made sense.
Not until eighth grade, when Dacula split the class into two teams, did Capobianco get his first taste of offense.
At the time, only one player in the class played quarterback and he wasn't on Capobianco's team.
"We needed a quarterback," he said.
They ran the double wing, so his defensive talents translated to that type of quarterback. He was quick and tough.
"I had no idea, anything about the position," Capobianco said. "I didn't really have to learn much but to block. We were running the double wing and I would pitch the ball and run and block in front of the running back."
Eventually he got his chance to carry the ball and, occasionally, throw a pass. He became a varsity starter as a sophomore in Kevin Maloof's mutliple offense. In his two years under the former head coach, the offense evolved around Capobianco, with him running the option attack from under center. This year, under first-year head coach Zito, Capobianco plays more of the versatile athlete position, lining up at running back, slot receiver and quarterback. He averages more than 90 yards a game on the ground and has thrown a touchdown pass this season.
"He is a guy that if the game is on the line, you want him to have the ball," Zito said. "He can do anything."
And even after three years, he still surprises people.
"A lot of times when we are shaking hands after the game a lot of guys are surprised at how small I am," Capobianco said.
And that's usually after he ran through that team's defense. The name Rocky evokes an underdog champion, but the meaning of his middle name Peter, "The Rock," is the role he fills for the Falcons.
"I refuse to go down, that is what I try to tell myself," he said. "I try to break at least two tackles a carry and never be tackled by one player. Any time I get tackled by one player, I am mad at myself. I feel like I was defeated by one player."
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