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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.

This past weekend, for semi-final playoff games, you couldn’t have asked for more stellar performances from Morris-Sussex players. Mount Olive’s Anthony DiJoseph single handily controlled the game for the Marauders with his three touchdown performance in their 21-16 win over West Morris. Newton’s Wyatt McCarthy was all over the field with his six tackles, 1 caused fumble and interception in Newton’s 21-6 victory over Westwood. And Par Hills QB Nick Verducci finished his career with an unbelievable performance in a 24-18 loss against Voorhees where he rushed 29 times for 230-yards and a touchdown and threw for 267-yards and another two touchdowns.

But the player that who was completely off-the-chain was Hackettstown senior RB/DB Christian Maciak who crushed Caldwell’s hopes of making it to the state finals with his three interceptions, including a Pick-6 and rushing for 58-yards on five carriers and a touchdown offensively. Maciak’s performance earned him the FBU Player of the Week Powered by Parisi for the Semi-Finals. We caught up with the junior stud to talk about this game, who on his team would win a burrito eating contest and what it will mean to him and his team if they are able to hoist that NJSIAA trophy in two weeks.

Morris Sussex Sports: Did your team expect to handle Caldwell as well as you did?
Christian Maciak: We went into the game with a positive attitude. We knew it would be a tough game versus such a great team but we knew we had to make big plays and that’s what we did. We moved the ball well on offense and made some big stops on defense.

MSS: What was your team’s reaction when the clock was ticking and you realized that you were actually heading to the championship game?
CM: It was a dream come true. There was a lot of people that doubted us and it was just great to prove them wrong and show them who the Hackettstown Tigers are! Going to MetLife was one of our many goals for the season. Our team worked very hard during the off-season and during the season. Hard work pays off!

MSS: Coming into this season, did you think your team was capable of going all the way?
CM: From the start of the season we played with a chip on our shoulder. From the first game through the playoffs are motto was “WEEK ONE”. We focused on one week at a time and came out successful and now we are playing for a state championship. But our team is not satisfied yet!

MSS: How did Coach Robinson help you ride the ups and downs of this season?
CM: When things weren’t going the way we wanted, he told us to keep our heads up. The following Monday (after a game) at practice we would fix what we did wrong in the game or could of done better and focused on the next game. Coach Robinson and the other coaches have a lot of faith in this team!

MSS: What would surprise people about this team?
CM: How talented our whole team is and the love for this game this everyone has.

MSS: Did you personally think you’d have as great a year as you’ve been having?
CM: During the off-season I focused and put a lot of work in the weight room and tried to improve my speed. Every game I’m just playing the game I love and trying to find ways to help my teammates win the game.

MSS: Who is your role model?
CM: Odell Beckham. I love his style and how he plays the game.

MSS: What was your “welcome to varsity football” moment?
CM: Freshman year, Coach Robinson asked some of my friends and I to be on kickoff versus Lenape in the first round of playoffs.

MSS: Who is the best player you ever played against as a varsity player?
CM: Chase Cramer. Their pitch to the outside with him is over-powering. It is like an extra five guys run on the field when he does that play!

MSS: Do you have any pregame rituals?
CM: Yes, we have a team dinner after school every week and then we go down to the locker room and listen to music and dance.

MSS: Which current or past NFL player do you think you most resemble on the field?
CM: Julian Edelman.

MSS: Who on your team is the best pure athlete?
CM: Anthony Caputo.

MSS: Who would you least want to go head-to-head in a tackling drill?
CM: Max Cash – the kid hits like a truck! This man is the reason why we practice with helmets during walk throughs.

MSS: Who on your team is a great player but flies under the radar of the news clippings?
CM: The offensive line and the wide receivers. Without their blocking on each play, our running game would not be successful.

MSS: Who is finishing 1-2-3 in the forty?
CM: Tj Sciaretta, me, Shawn Burke

MSS: Who is finishing 1-2-3 in chin-ups?
CM: Connor Loughrey, Allan Hattan, Joseph Andes

MSS: Who on your team would win a burrito eating contest?
CM: Joseph Andes – this man would be done before we would even start. He loves his food. His favorite food is actually chili pasta.

MSS: Who is the biggest diva?
CM: Me – I think my team can agree as well. My teammates judge me on how I dress to practice/school and the music I listen too. They question me sometimes (laughs).

MSS: Who is the biggest nerd?
CM: Timmy Ervey – this kid knows every assignment for every position on every play. Smart on the field and off. He’s also part of the NHS (national honor society).

MSS: Which of your offensive linemen secretly wishes he was a skill player?
CM: Alan Hatten – all because he was a tight end in middle school and caught a touchdown pass in a game.

MSS: Which of them would actually be successful as a skill player?
CM: Connor Loughrey – I’ve never seen an offensive lineman throw the ball so far without any effort.

MSS: Who on your team would last the longest in a survival situation if he was lost in the forest?
CM: Edward Demnitiz – this kid would eat anything that looks like food.

MSS: Who would last the shortest amount of time?
CM: Austin Willis – if he were to see animal he would throw up his hands in the air and the animal would get scared and attack him.

MSS: Who does the best impression of Coach Robinson?
CM: Matt Castro – he mimics Coach Robinson on what he says when we huddle up after the walk trough practice before game day.

MSS: What was the funniest thing that ever happened in practice or a game?
CM: One day after practice we were talking about our next game against Mountain Lakes and I asked if practice was going to get moved back because I didn’t want to miss the girl’s Powder Puff game (laughs).

MSS: Now that you are in the state finals, has the school and town been treating you differently?
CM: I feel like everyone has opened their eyes about how great this Hackettstown football team actually is!

MSS: What will you be thinking about if you will be hoisting the NJSIAA trophy above your head ‪in two weeks‬?
CM: We did it boys, we believed in each other and we made history.

MSS: Congrats Christian and go bring home Morris-Sussex that ring!

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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