Every week Morris Sussex Sports, along with co-sponsors Football University and Athletic Republic of Randolph, identify one player out of the 37 teams we cover as our Player of the Week. We look beyond just stats. Our goal is to honor the best individual performance and how that effort was able to lift his team beyond its perceived boundaries. If you play varsity football in Morris Sussex next week just could quite possibly be your turn to be the FBU Player of the Week Powered by Athletic Republic of Randolph.
What an amazing week Round 1 of the playoffs was! Not only did 13 Morris Sussex teams advance further in the state playoff tournament, there were some flat out spectacular performances. Pope John runningback Berrell Neal pounded for 249-yards and 2 touchdowns in the Johnnies big win over Red Bank Catholic, Sparta’s Alex Milliken dashed for 243-yards and 4 touchdowns in the Spartans victory over Demarest and Roxbury fullback Joe Badgley grinded for 139-yards and a career high three touchdowns as the Gael’s beat Northern Highlands.
However, as impressive as those guys were last week, no player seemed to play more inspired than Hanover Park’s own Rory DeLuca. DeLuca was a man on a mission has rushed 33 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns on offense and was all over the field on defense as he racked up 8 tackles. He seemingly single-handily wore down a very good Caldwell team which allowed the Hornets to come away with a 28-22 victory and kept them alive in the playoff hunt for another week.
This amazing performance has earned DeLuca the FBU Player of the Week Powered by Athletic Republic of Randolph for Round 1. We caught up with the senior stud to talk about this game, what his favorite opposing stadium is to play at and who is role model is.
Morris Sussex Sports: Did you think you would have as monster a game as you did coming into this one?
Rory DeLuca: No I didn’t. But when my offensive line started opening up holes that trucks could go through, I knew we had something special going on.
MSS: What makes this Hanover Park team special?
RD: Besides the camaraderie we share as a team, the fans we have, our supportive families, the Bleacher Creatures, friends and alumni are truly amazing.
MSS: Who is flat out the best athlete on your team?
RD: I would have to say it’s between Donato Casolaro and Michal Radomski.
MSS: Who is the strongest?
RD: Hands down Anthony Otto.
MSS: Who is finishing 1-2-3 in the forty?
RD: One is Donato Casolaro, two is Michael Ferrone and three is a toss up between John Stavropoulos and Jimmy Fortier.
MSS: Who leads by example?
RD: Definitely Eric Magnifico. He works really hard on and off the field. He’s a great kid inside and out, a true leader.
MSS: Who is the unsung hero on your team?
RD: Eddie Schimminger. He’s the hardest working, toughest kid on the team. I have an immense amount of respect for him.
MSS: What would people be surprised to know about your team?
RD: Before each game, we assemble in a circle, hold hands, and pray.
MSS: What is your favorite Hanover Park tradition?
RD: Thursday team meeting with the coaches, then going out to eat with the team.
MSS: What is the oddest Hanover Park tradition?
RD: Every week someone gets the Hammer Award for the best tackle during a game. The winner keeps it in their locker for the week, and the next game runs out carrying the hammer.
MSS: What away stadium do you like to play the most?
RD: Madison High School, Dodger Field.
MSS: Who was the best football player you played against?
RD: I’d have to say runningback Brian DePaola from Mahwah.
MSS: What is the funniest thing that happened in the huddle this season?
RD: During a time out against Pequannock, my little brother Dante who is our “Ball Boy,” pulled me out of the huddle and said, “Ror you gotta do something here!”
MSS: What is your pregame meal?
RD: Chicken Parmigiana or Steak, with Penne Vodka.
MSS: Do you have a song that you listen to before games?
RD: Heart of a Champion by Nelly
MSS: What current or past NFL player do you most resemble on the field?
RD: I’d say Marshawn Lynch, and for the old timers out there, Earl Campbell.
MSS: Who is your role model?
RD: My Father. His knowledge and support have been such a positive impact on me.
MSS: Congrats Rory and best of luck the rest of the way!