In a mid-season game with postseason repercussions, the 3-1 Jefferson Falcons faced the 3-1 Hanover Park Hornets in a much anticipated game in East Hanover. In an equally important contest for both teams, Hanover Park knew they would need to contain Jefferson’s four year starting quarterback JR Reese if they wanted a shot at winning.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, they just couldn’t stop the signal caller who was man on a mission; rushing for 160 yards and one touchdown on the ground and 150 yards and three touchdowns through the air in a 37-17 convincing victory.
Reese sizzling performance not only propelled the Falcons with the third most Power Points in their state playoff section, it also earned him Morris Sussex Football’s Week 5 Player of the Week Award.
Morris Sussex Football caught up with Reese to talk about his stunning performance from this past weekend, some insights to the makeup of this Jefferson team and what he hopes his legacy will be when he graduates.
Morris Sussex Football: How big was this win for the Falcons?
JR Reese: This win was huge for us as a team. We knew if we rallied together and played our game, we would come out on top. That is exactly what we did! It is a big confidence builder and momentum booster heading into a game against a good Madison team.
MSF: Why do you think you guys are enjoying so much success?
JR: We gel as a team. We have been playing together since we were little, and it’s all coming together. Defense does their part, offense does their part, and as a family, we win these games.
MSF: What did your team learn from the Dover loss?
JR: We learned to not take anybody lightly. We came in with those two wins we were thinking we were gonna roll them. We hadn’t given them enough credit at the time. We came out flat and Dover got the better of us that night. They are a great team!
MSF: What is the ultimate goal for this Jefferson team?
JR: My ultimate goal is no different than anyone else’s goal, to win a state title.
MSF: There are a lot of great teams in your playoff section, including Sparta from up the road. Have up seen them play this year?
JR: Yes I saw Sparta play against Pope John this past Saturday. I have a lot of respect for both teams. Sparta played their hearts out and had the game until a late score. They are a very good team.
MSF: How much confidence does it give this team that Coach Mattessich already has a ring?
JR: It gives us a lot of confidence that he has been there before. He knows what it takes to get there and we have to follow the road he takes us on.
MSF: He’s always so upbeat! Does he ever get mad?
JR: (laughs) Yes he gets mad at times! He always says, “If you don’t blame the quarterback then the blame is on me!” He just expects more from me as a four year starter.
MSF: After four years as a starter, what do you want your legacy to be when you graduate?
JR: I want my legacy to be that I was a true leader of the team. That no matter what hardship we may have faced, I always found a way to lead us to victory and overcome the unthinkable.
MSF: In all your years of playing varsity football, who was the best athlete you played with?
JR: That’s a tough one. I might have to say it was Danny Brown. The guy could do it all; drop back in coverage, then come back and deliver the hit. He also had good instincts running the ball. He was a lethal return man.
MSF: Who was the best player you’ve played against?
JR: My freshman year against Pope John we played Cole Ferrand who I believe went to Maryland. The guy broke up everything we had in the backfield. He was an absolute beast.
MSF: Who on your team has surprised you with how they’ve stepped up this year?
JR: Jason Valentini. He’s only played in two games because of a shoulder injury but whenever he is on the field at that defensive end spot, his presence is felt.
MSF: Who is the best pure athlete on your team?
JR: Tyler Jones. The dude has breakaway speed and jumps higher then everybody along with a set of great hands.
MSF: Who is beating you in the forty?
MSF: Who is the funniest?
JR: I might have to say AJ Dragona. The guy is a comedian. He is always making me laugh somehow.
MSF: What’s the funniest thing he ever said?
JR: He’s said so many things it’s hard to think back to just one thing!
MSF: Who is the biggest diva?
JR: (laughs) He won’t be too happy with me for this but definitely Dakota Nobile. He’s a danger on the field at all times, but he’s the diva of the team off the field.
MSF: What’s the worst part of practice?
JR: The end. The more practice to improve, the better.
MSF: What’s your pregame ritual?
JR: Usually I go to the bathroom a couple times and listen to some music, read a text from my dad wishing me luck and to play smart and hard and have fun. Right before we run on to the field I get in the middle of the circle under the field goal post and give a speech before we run through our banner.
MSF: What song do you play to get you pumped up?
JR: Bring Me to Life and Till I Collapse
MSF: Who is your role model?
JR: My role model would have to be my dad. He came from the bottom and now he is doing great things with his life.
MSF: I’m secretly afraid of __________.
JR: (laughs) Octopuses. They freak me out.
MSF: If I could go pro in another sport it would be ______________.
MSF: Congrats on such a great game against Hanover Park and best of the luck the rest of the way JR!