Before the 2013 Mountain Lakes football season started, the Mountain Lakes Herd football team made it their mission to make it to the state finals. They rolled through the regular season with a miraculous undefeated record. The Herd had one game left to fullfill their goal. The problem was, it was against the favorited undefeated Lincoln Lions.
So how did Mountain Lakes respond? Well they busted out for 43 unanswered points and almost shutout the talanted Lions in convincing victory that ensured the Herd’s spot in the state finals against Caldwell. Leading the charge for the Herd was senior fullback Christian Cuccinello who ran fifteen times for 136 yards and an amazing four touchdowns.
Morris Sussex Football caught up with Cuccinello to talk about this past weekends performance, some funny moments with Coach Fusco and what we can expect from Lakes in the State Final’s.
Morris Sussex Football: What does it mean to this Herd team to be back in the State Finals?
Christian Cuccinello: For us to be back in the State Final’s means that we are one game away from achieving our ultimate goal. We have worked incredibly hard since we lost in last year’s Final and we are excited for the chance to finish it off this year.
MSF: How is your team going to prepare over the next two weeks?
CC: We are going to prepare like we always do by watching a lot of film and being as focused as we have ever been in practice. Two weeks gives us a lot of time to get some guys healthy and back into the mix for Dec. 7th.
MSF: What is it about Mt. Lakes that makes them so successful year in and year out?
CC: The bonding and team chemistry that we create through the seniors every year. We are a senior-driven program that re-stocks every year through hard work all year-round. The coaches incorporated a winning tradition and help create an environment where team success outweighs individual needs.
MSF: What is it about Coach Fusco that allowed him to carry on Wilkin’s winning ways?
CC: His dedication to the program and his faith and confidence that he puts in the seniors each and every year. He thinks about our team 24 hours a day. Our entire staff has done an incredible job picking up where Coach Wilkins left off.
MSF: Who on your team is the flat out best athlete?
CC: We have a lot of very good athletes but probably saftey Kyle Allison. He is tall, fast, and has a ridiculous vertical.
MSF: Who on your team would you not want to face in an Oklahoma drill?
CC: Senior fullback/linebacker John Spagnola. He is a physical specimen and is a very hard-hitting football player.
MSF: Who could bench 225lb the most?
CC: Our 6’6 335lb offensive tackle/nose tackle Zach Kuehm. He is a flat out animal.
MSF: Who is beating you in the forty?
CC: Cornerback Adam Franklin kills all of us. He set the county record in the 100 meter last spring.
MSF: What is the worst part of practice?
CC: Easily when our defensive coordinator Coach Stanzione runs conditioning on Tuesdays.
MSF: What is the funniest thing Coach Fusco said this season?
CC: When he said, “If we hit this play Saturday they will be dead, D-A-D dead”. He has never heard the end of that one from the other coaches.
MSF: What current NFL player do you think you most resemble on the field?
CC: Not many NFL teams are running the Wing-T offense these days so that’s hard to say. Although I have never seen him play you called me John Riggins (earlier in the season) which I can see because we both have very nice mustaches.
MSF: What is your pre-game ritual?
CC: I don’t really have any. We have our team breakfast together in the morning and then we get ready to go.
MSF: What can Caldwell expect from your team?
CC: They can expect an inspired team after losing starting senior halfback Chris Sammarro in Week 8. They can also expect a hungry team after not finishing the job last season.