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Week 7 Player of the Week: Roxbury Fullback Donald Panciello

When Randolph and Roxbury play each other, it doesn’t matter what their records are. Their long time cross border rivalry goes back eons. When both teams are 6-1, the game’s intensity is that much more heightened.

This past Friday night, these two foes headed off against each other in another epic battle on the home turf of the Roxbury Gaels. The game culminated by the Gaels edging a 13-7 win over the Randolph Rams.

At the heart of the Gaels game plan was fullback Donald Panciello who trudged through 216 yards on 26 carriers. Panciello also bolted to the endzone twice on 71 and 6 yard runs.

This performance earned Panciello Morris Sussex Football’s Week 7 Player of the Week. Morris Sussex Football caught up with Panciello to talk about this big game, how it is playing for Coach Lorusso and the make up of this Gaels team.

Morris Sussex Football: What was going through your mind as you carried the ball 26 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns against Randolph?
Donald Panciello: At that time, all I thought about is how I needed to do my best to give my team the best chance at a win.

MSF: How was it playing against the big man Brendan Mahon?
DP: He is a great player. Going into the game we knew we had to make sure we had to give him a good battle on every play. I think we did that with the help of our lineman upfront, especially Kyle Adams.

MSF: Do you have a favorite moment playing football at Roxbury so far?
DP: Beating Randolph at home on senior night.

Panciello (#34) and the rest of the Gaels celebrate their big win over their big rival Randolph in a 13-7 battle.

MSF: Before the season, Coach Lorusso told me this senior class was a special group. Why do you think he felt that?
DP: We are all great friends and love the game of football. We also hold each other accountable for everything we do. Our main goal is to win a state championship. I know the guys playing next to me will do everything they can to do so.

MSF: What is it like having him as a coach?
DP: You really couldn’t ask for a better coach. Coach Lorusso cares so much about the game and is so involved. He also cares for our players and treats us with respect. Our team is like a family, thanks to him.

MSF: What was the funniest thing Coach Lorusso said or did this season?
DP: It’s an inside joke that we can’t really say.

MSF: What would surprise people about Coach Lorusso?
DP: He has four daughters and no sons.

MSF: Who on your team is the flat out best athlete?
DP: Our running back/outside linebacker Chris Colucci. I’ve been playing sports with Chris since I was a kid and he’s been able to do everything. He is fast, strong, and pays attention to detail. He does what he is told and has the natural ability to play wherever he wants or is asked to. When we were little during our 8th grade season a lot of our lineman got hurt. Chris stepped up and played center, guard, and running back all in the same year. He is great!

MSF: If you had to go one-on-one against anyone on your team, who would you NOT want to go against?
DP: John Magi. John is a hard nosed, mean football player. John and I are great friends, but in the trenches, I wouldn’t want to be near him.

MSF: Who would win in the forty between all of your position players?
DP: Our quarterback/captain Kyle Young.

MSF: Who was the best athlete you have faced during your high school career?
DP: During my sophomore year, I started at linebacker and had to face West Morris Central’s Tom Cabarle. He wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest player, but he was a great athlete. He was a shifty runner and was hard to catch. Against us he ran the ball hard, and actually had a pick-6. He was the best overall player I’ve faced.

MSF: Who is the unsung hero of your team?
DP: Center Shaun Spitzer. Shaun is a great center. He gives his all on every play and barely ever makes mistakes. He is a kid that you know what you’re going to get from him on every play.

MSF: Does Kyle Young have the freedom to change a play at the line of scrimmage?
DP: I think that he could if we needed him to, but our play calls are methodical and there is a reason why our coaches call the plays they do.

MSF: What current or past NFL player do you think you most resemble?
DP: I’m not really sure.

MSF: Who is your role model?
DP: My father. He is the one who brought me into the football lifestyle. If it wasn’t for him teaching me how to be a good person and player, I wouldn’t be even close to where I am in life today.

MSF: What do you see yourself doing 25 years from now?
DP: Living a good life with a family. Hopefully I have a good job, but what that job is I don’t know. Whatever it is that I am doing, I am going to try to be the best I can be and live an honest life.

MSF: What will it mean to this Roxbury team if they get to the State Finals at MetLife Stadium?
DP: It means everything. This is why we all play the game and it’s our main goal. If we get there, we would do everything in our power to win that game.

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George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.

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