For as far back as Dom Traversa can remember, he has been playing linebacker.

"That was my first position," he said. "It came very natural to me."

It came very natural to the Pittsfield High School senior this year, who was named the All-Eagle defensive most valuable player in a vote of the Berkshire County League's coaches.

Traversa, who started playing football when he was eight years old, said he doesn't remember his first game, but remembers that first season.

"I do remember my first season in the youth leagues," he said. "I made a couple of nice plays and thought ‘Man, I like that.' "

Traversa's linebacker roots took early on, and by the time he was preparing for high school, that was where he belonged.

"I know when I got him at the senior level, he was a linebacker," Taconic coach Jim Ziter said. "He was one of the few true football-smart kids I ever had."

Traversa was a two-way player for Pittsfield High School head coach Brian Jezewski. Traversa led the Generals with 144 tackles, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. On offense, he rushed for 771 yards with eight touchdowns.

Playing both positions is part of the family business. Dom's father Brian was a two-way player at St. Joseph and Brian Traversa also played fullback and linebacker.

It was a former New England Patriot linebacker who was the MVP's idol growing up.

"I want to play in the NFL and be just like Tedy Bruschi," Traversa said, remembering his younger days.

It didn't take all that long for Traversa to make his mark in Pittsfield purple and white. After spending his freshman season playing on the JV team and learning the high school game, Jezewski told Traversa in the spring that he could be on the field in the fall.

"He said I want you to work hard and you can be very successful," Traversa said. "Come summer practices, I was starting at linebacker."

The then-sophomore said the upperclassmen on the Generals "accepted me right in. They respected me right away."

Traversa said he wasn't as concerned about practice as he was about playing in his first game.

Football can be a very fast game, with each play moving along quickly. Players always talk about how long it takes to have the game "slow down." Traversa said it didn't take that long.

"After the first couple of hits, it all started to slow down" for him, he said. "I could see everything clearer. After those first few hits, I zeroed in."

Traversa is looking to play college football, and is deciding between a pair of top-caliber New England Division III teams, Springfield or WNEW.

Traversa and the Generals did not make a playoff run during his time in uniform, but he was a key factor in helping Pittsfield rebuild its football program.

"He is the benchmark for what we look for in a Pittsfield High School football player," said Jezewski.

"We've been up and down for so long, to be one of the players to help build up the program is special," said Traversa. "It's not easy. I had to be a role model for the younger kids.

"It was never about me. It was all about making the team better."

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman