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2013 Week 7 Players of the Week: Pope John Receivers Austin Bailey, Noah Brown & Ryan Izzo

In a much anticipated division game against Morris Knolls, the 6-0 Pope John Lions knew they could not take them lightly. After all, the 5-1 Golden Eagles run a very potent Houston Veer that has run scored between 40-50 points more than a few times this season. The Lions knew they needed their offense to respond by staying ahead of Knolls for all four quarters.

Respond they did, by our scoring Knolls’ 69-29. Most of the offensive output came at the hand of QB Sonny Abramson’s passing attack to an array of talented receivers. Three of those receivers, junior Austin Baily and seniors Noah Brown and Ryan Izzo combined for 242 yards and four touchdowns. It was this performance that earned the trio the Week 7 Players of the Week.

Morris Sussex Football caught up with these three to talk about their aspirations for this season, who makes the character of this team and what are some of the funny things that come out of Coach Carlson’s mouth.

Morris Sussex Football: What was your personal goal before this season?
Austin Bailey: My personal goal for this season are to contribute at a high level on a Championship team.
Ryan Izzo: My personal goal before the season was just to improve from last year. I hit the weight room very hard, worked on my routes and speed. Just wanted to be able to contribute to the team and help us win.
Noah Brown: Get better as a leader and a player, and bring my school its first ever Non-Public Group 3 state championship. Anything less is certainly a disappointment.

MSF: Was there a time during the Sparta game that you thought you might be dished your first loss?
AB: Never, I have confidence in my teammates and our coaching staff.
RI: There was a doubt in my head during the Sparta game but after Sonny told me he was not going to let us lose I knew we would not.
NB: Nope, I was very confident in my team and that we would fight our way out of that one.

MSF: Do you wish more of your games were as competitive as that?
AB: Yes, it was a lot of fun.
RI: Of course I wish all our games were like that! The energy during the game was amazing but we can’t control our schedule.

MSF: Have you been scouting some of the teams in your playoff bracket (ie Delbarton, St. Joes, Red Bank Catholic, etc)?
AB: Yes, I have been peaking at all three of those teams.
RI: I have been following all the teams in our group but haven’t scouted them very hard yet. I’m looking forward to finishing out the season first!
NB: Yes I’ve been to a couple of games already.

MSF: Which of those teams do you think will give you the toughest competition?
AB: St. Joes.
RI: We do not like to under estimate anyone but St. Joe’s being ranked Top 5 in country or whatever they are they will be great challenge.
NB: They will all be good games and we will be ready for all of them.

MSF: What is it about Sonny that makes him such a special player?
AB: His mental capacity and his physical attributes allow him to stand out on the field.
RI: What makes Sonny such a great player is his desire to be great. There is never a time when Sonny stops working and it shows.
NB: He is so mentally advanced. His football IQ and attention to detail is rediculous.

MSF: In ten years, what do you see as his list of accomplishments?
AB: An accomplished college QB and a first round draft pick.
RI: In ten years I see Sonny playing on Sundays.
NB: He will be playing on Sundays. With a degree from Ohio State hopefully (laughs).

MSF: How excited are you guys about playing at the next level?
AB: I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to be a student athlete at the college level.
RI: I’m very excited about playing at the next level. It’s going to be some of the best four or five years of my life.
NB: Can’t wait! I’m am incredibly blessed to be able to do so.

MSF: In your years of playing high school varsity football, who was the best athlete you played against?
AB: Best athlete I’ve played against was Anthony Smith (current CB at Penn State) in practice.
RI: The best athlete I have played against in high school when Noah is not on defense was Jon Hilliman.
NB: Donta Pollack from Holy Spirit my freshman year. Anthony Sarao from Holy Spirit was good as well.

MSF: Who is winning a race between the three of you?
AB: Diffidently me.
RI: A race between us in no competition. I win easy.
NB: Me (laughs), no question.

MSF: Who could do the most push ups?
AB: I’d have to go with Brown.
RI: Push ups would have to be me also.
NB: Me.

MSF: Who is the most uptight?
AB: Ryan Izzo
RI: Noah.
NB: Sonny, No question (laughs).

MSF: Who on your team is the biggest diva?
AB: That would be me!
RI: The biggest diva on our team surprisingly is our big defensive tackle Noa Merritt.
NB: Austin or Izzo.

MSF: Who on your team loosens everyone up with humor?
AB: Noa Merritt.
RI: Noa Merritt one of the funnest guys I know. He’s always makes light of situation and has everyone laughing.
NB: Noa Merritt and Mike Rodriguez.

MSF: What’s the funniest thing Coach Carlson ever said?
AB: “Their going to eat your lunch!”
RI: Coach is one of the funniest guys I know so it’s hard to pick one time.
NB: Not sure (laughs), there is a lot! He is one of the funniest people I know!

MSF: What is the worst part of practice?
AB: Conditioning in the summer.
RI: Worst part of practice is conditioning.

MSF: What was the best costume you ever had for Halloween?
AB: Winnie The Poo when I was a little kid.
RI: Best costume I have ever had for Halloween was being a nerd.
NB: Steve Erkel in 7th grade.

MSF: Congrats again guys on all the success you are all having this year! Kick butt in the playoffs!

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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