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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.

Week 9 did not disappoint as a whole host of players ripped up the turf around Morris Sussex Sports. Morris Knolls runningback Derek Ferguson was magnificent as he rushed for 240-yards and scored five TDs to finish off the season with a win against Mendham. Sparta QB Anthony Broccoletti also joined the five TD club with his three passing TDs and two rushing scores in the Spartan’s win over High Point. And Kinnelon freshman kicker Zach Van Zile gave his Colt teem a big boost after kicking a 26-yard game winning field goal against Newark Central for the win.

However, one player that exemplified what it means to lay it all on the line this past week more than anyone else in Morris-Sussex was Mount Olive senior linebacker Ryan Hodgins. Hodgins was absolutely redonk has he had 13 solo tackles and an interception in a 45-0 shutout against a very good Randolph team. Hodgins performance earned him the FBU Player of the Week Powered by Parisi for Week 9. We caught up with Hodgins to discuss what it means to be in the playoffs, who his role model is and who on the team does the best impression of Coach O’Connor.

Morris Sussex Sports: How does it feel to officially be in the playoffs?
Ryan Hodgins: It’s very exciting! We’ve put a lot of work into this season and to see these kind of results is great. We’re not finished yet.

MSS: What is it like going from winning only three total games in two years – your sophomore and junior year – to nearly running the table your senior season?
RH: We are in such a different place this year. The attitude and atmosphere is energetic. We knew this was going to be a special year and it has been.

MSS: What would you say to another team who might be in a similar situation as you guys were the past two years?
RH: I would tell them to keep working hard and never lose focus.

MSS: Your offense has been ridiculous this season. How much do you think your defense has to do with that?
RH: Our defense has definitely been playing a role in helping out the offense. We’ve been creating a lot of turnovers this year which feeds our offense the ball.

MSS: Which would you prefer to have; a Pick-6, a sack for a big loss or a big stop on 4th and goal?
RH: I would prefer a Pick-6. Me and the “D Block” have big 4th-and-goal stops each week.

MSS: Who on your team is the best pure athlete?
RH: Evan Kelson, he’s fast like a gazelle.

MSS: Who is finishing 1-2-3 in the forty?
RH: 1)Evan Kelson, 2)Liam Anderson, 3)Anthony DiJoseph

MSS: Who is finishing 1-2-3 in chin-ups?
RH: 1) Paulie Moore, 2) Paulie Moore, 3) Paulie Moore

MSS: Who on your team would win a hotdog eating contest?
RH: Patrick Olson and Anthony DiJoseph, neck and neck.

MSS: Who is the biggest diva?
RH: Lance Johnson and Davis Luzano. They are the fashion trend setters on the team.

MSS: Who is the biggest nerd?
RH: Dylan Mayer and Dominic Spera. They are smart on and off the field.

MSS: Which of your offensive linemen secretly wishes he was a skill player?
RH: Patrick Olson due to his golden flow hair.

MSS: Which of them would actually be successful as a skill player?
RH: Essex DeBerry. He’s a big dude with some wheels.

MSS: Who on your team would last the longest in a survival situation if he was lost in the forest (and why)?
RH: Robert Bakovic. He could catch live prey with his hands.

MSS: Who would last the shortest amount of time?
RH: Anthony DiJoseph. There’s no Moe’s or Applebees in the forest.

MSS: Who does the best impression of Coach O’Connor?
RH: Liam Anderson – Halloween 2016!

MSS: What was your “welcome to varsity football” moment?
RH: Starting in a game scrimmage my Sophomore year.

MSS: Who was the best player you ever played against during your HS career?
RH: Hackettstown O-line 2016.

MSS: Who is your role model?
RH: Coach Dave Benfatti. He’s been a great mentor to me as a linebacker and a coach. I’m going to miss him next year.

MSS: Which past or present NFL player do you think most resembles you on the field?
RH: Brian Urlacher

MSS: What will it mean to your team if you guys are walking through the tunnel of MetLife Stadium at the beginning of December?
RH: It will mean everything. Mostly that all our hard work has finally paid off.

MSS: Congrats again Ryan and best of luck the rest of the way!
RH: Thanks again for naming me as FBU player of the week for Week 9.

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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