Every week Morris Sussex Sports, along with co-sponsors Football University and Parisi Speed School of Morristown & Sparta, 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 Parisi Speed School.
What an amazing week of individual and team performances in Week 7! Parsippany Hill’s Jayson Marte played superb in the Viking’s overtime win over Orange with a three touchdown performance and big plays on special teams. Mount Olive’s Liam Anderson was absolutely incredible in the Marauders win over Roxbury by running for three touchdowns, throwing for two more, making 8 tackles and picking off a pass. And Mendham’s sophomore QB Logan Clouse made a big statement with his four touchdown game in the Minutemen’s 45-14 win over Indian Hills.
But the player who seemed to be playing in a different dimension was West Morris Central’s Mr. Everything Jack DiPietro in the Wolfpack’s 21-7 defeat over the undefeated Sparta Spartans. DiPietro was everywhere as he rushed for 57-yards and two touchdowns, caught three passes for 47-yards, returned a punt to the house and was in on a host of tackles on defense. DiPietro’s amazing evening earned him the FBU Player of the Week Powered by Parisi Speed School for Week7. We caught up with the big man to talk about what this game means to this team, who his role model is and which of his teammates does the best impression of Coach Hennelly.
Morris Sussex Sports: What does the fact that you took down such a strong team like Sparta do for your team’s confidence?
Jack DiPietro: It gives us smomentum going into the last few games of the season. After a loss the week before, bouncing back with a win like this really gets the team back to where we need to be.
MSS: Did you anticipate having such a big game as you had?
JD: I come into every game with the same mentality. I knew this game was going to be something special and I’m glad I got to do some great things.
MSS: Coming into this season did you expect to have such a big role as you have had as just a sophomore?
JD: Definitely not. At the beginning of the season I was hoping for maybe a few carries a game and to see some reps on defense but I never expected to be starting both ways.
MSS: What is it about playing at home that gives you an advantage?
JD: There is nothing like playing in “the Valley” on a Friday night. The grass is always wet, it’s always foggy and the whole town is at the game no matter who we are playing. I love having the grass because everyone else that we play hates it. There’s just a different energy in “the Valley”.
MSS: Why is it that it always seems like it gets foggy and wet?
JD: It just doesn’t seem like it’s foggy and wet, it is always foggy and wet. It could be 80 degrees and sunny all week but Friday night you better be wearing screw-in cleats because the grass will be slippery.
MSS: What’s it like playing for Coach Hennelly?
JD: Playing for Coach Hennelly is like nothing else. He is a coach who truly loves the game of football and loves the guys he is coaching. The way he keeps tradition at West Morris is unlike anything else.
MSS: What current or past NFL coach does he remind you of?
JD: Bill Belichick. He isn’t into all of the fancy styles of play and he really knows how to take any group of players and win.
MSS: What do you think is the strongest aspect of your team?
JD: The strongest aspect of our team is the way we play as one team. We preach that we need to play as one and not as a bunch of individuals and that separates us from a lot of other programs.
MSS: What would surprise people about this group?
JD: Not many people thought we were going to have the season that we are having because of the amount of seniors we lost last year. But a lot of people are stepping up and making this year memorable.
MSS: What was your “welcome to varsity football” moment?
JD: Waking up the morning after the first game of the season against Par Hills and not being able to walk.
MSS: Who was the best player you ever played against so far in your varsity career?
JD: The best player I’ve played against so far is Nick Verducci from Par Hills.
MSS: Who is your role model?
JD: I look up to my parents. They really help me set my path as an athlete and as a person. Without them, I definitely would not be playing varsity football.
MSS: What current or former NFL player do you think resembles you on the field?
JD: Christian McCaffrey. He wants to be involved in every play possible whether it’s rushing, receiving or special teams and I feel the same way.
MSS: Do you have any pregame rituals?
JD: I have a lot, I would say I’m very superstitious. From 2:35pm when the bell rings on a Friday, I have to follow the same routine. From what I eat, to what I wear during pass offense and the songs I listen to. I have a set ritual for every game.
MSS: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
JD: In ten years I hope to be serving the country in some way. I’ve wanted to be in the military for several years, so I see myself somehow involved in the armed forces.
MSS: Who on your team would you least like to go against in practice?
JD: Tom Pellegrino. When a kid breaks the squat record at your school and has the nickname “Moose” nobody wants to go against him.
MSS: Who is the hardest working player on the team?
JD: Adam Smith. He’s a kid who just loves the game of football and leaves every practice and game completely exhausted.
MSS: Who is the funniest?
JD: Jake Ligos. His sack, touchdown, and win celebrations are classic (laughs)!
MSS: Who’s finishing 1-2-3 in the forty?
JD: 1) Jehlan Williamson, 2) Damien Engel, 3) either me or Adam Smith
MSS: Who on your team would last the longest in a survival situation if they were lost in the forest?
JD: PJ Wright. The kid is an animal and would easily find his way out.
MSS: Who is the biggest nerd?
JD: John Hagler or Drew Morgan. They are 5th and 6th in the class.
MSS: Who would finish 1st in a hot dog eating contest?
JD: Seaver Riccordella, and it wouldn’t be close.
MSS: Who has the best dance moves?
JD: 100% Jehlan “Juice” Williamson.
MSS: Who does the best impression of Coach Hennelly?
JD: Tom Pellegrino, “bodies everywhere”!!!
MSS: What was the funniest thing that ever happened in practice or in a game?
JD: Tom Pellegrino and Seaver Riccordella impersonating two coaches from ESU at our preseason bonfire was hilarious!
MSS: This season will be a resounding success if…
JD: …we won the state championship. We have everything we need to make a run and if we take it one game at a time there is no reason we can’t win it all.
MSS: Congrats Jack and best of luck the rest of the way!