One good look at Lake Highlands’ Chris Passaro, at 5-feet, 10-inches and 265 pounds, and you can guess his position: nose-guard.
With 32.5 inches thighs, moving him from the defensive line would be like trying to move a tree stump with a spoon. Half the players on the Wildcats’ roster don’t have waists that large.
And Passaro isn’t shy about throwing his weight around: In Lake Highlands’ opening victory over Arlington Lamar, breaking that school’s 32-game home winning streak, Passaro had two unassisted tackles and four assists, despite being double-teamed the entire game.
The name ‘Passaro’ may ring a bell for Wildcats fans. Passaro’s older brother, Frank, and his three older sisters all attended Lake Highlands High School.
Frank started the family nose-guard tradition, playing varsity football from 1985-1987 and was a national champion in power lifting.
Passaro has taken great pride in breaking Frank’s school record of a 570-pound squat, pushing the record to 575 during his junior year.
“I called him (Frank) up right after I broke his record to give him a hard time,” Passaro says. “He reminded me that I was in a heavier weight class than him, but at least he was glad the record was still in the family.”
Passaro’s off-season dedication in the weight room has paid off on the football field, as well. Last year, he made second-team all-district in 9-5A as a junior for the Wildcats.
Born in Long Island, N.Y., Passaro comes from an Italian family heritage.
“Mom and dad never pushed me into sports, but with four brothers and sisters, we were all real competitive,” he says. “Since mom and dad both like to cook, I’ve always had a big appetite.”
But Passaro is more than a big guy: He ranks 44th in his senior class of 534, with a 94.7 GPA, and he says academics come first in his family.
Passaro hopes to attract enough attention on the playing field to earn a college scholarship and plans to become a medical engineer.
As vice president of the school board, a position responsible for organizing the senior prom and various fund-raisers, Passaro still finds the energy to be active in peer-helper classes that allow him to work with elementary school students.
“I love working with kids,” Passaro says. “As athletes in a small community, I think that it’s important to be good role models.”
A Garth Brooks and New York Giants fan, Passaro is in his eighth year of organized football. After moving to Dallas in the fifth grade, he has played with the Falcons (Pee-Wee), Forest Meadow Junior High and Lake Highlands.
“Playing nose-guard is great. You’re constantly in the middle of everything,” Passaro says. “It’s very challenging to see where the ball is going, and you have to learn to read the lineman.
“Basically, you’re the stud of the defense – my teammates will love that line.”