Morris Sussex Sports covers 37 football teams that consists of about 1,000 players in Morris, Sussex and parts of Warren counties. Out of those 1,000 players, Morris Sussex Sports and Parisi Speed School honors just one athlete who does something special each week with the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week. Go to Parisi Speed School to raise your game and become faster, bigger and stronger. Mention “Morris Sussex Sports” and receive a FREE Speed Pass to one of their world class training sessions.
During Week Zero there were a ton of amazing performances by a ton amazing football players across Morris-Sussex. The MSS writers their hands full trying to decide who deserved to be the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week for Week Zero. But then we came across Newton’s Jimmy Harding and all unanimously decided he was the most deserving. The 5-9, 235-pound defensive tackle had an incredible game with 8-tackles and a sack. He even motored his way to track down one of Lenape Valley’s runningbacks to save what could have been long touchdown run. But at the end of the game, Jimmy shined the most. With the score tied at 14, Lenape Valley lined up for what would have been a walk-off 12-yard field goal to ice the game. That’s when Jimmy busted through the line and got his hands up to block the kick to force overtime. Newton would go on to win the game by the score of 20-14, all because of Jimmy Harding’s will to win.
We caught up with the senior lineman to talk about his amazing performance, learn about what it’s like to play for Coach Parzero and see what else is in store for the 2018 Braves.
Morris Sussex Sports: What’s it like to come off a state championship season and go right into an overtime battle like you just did against Lenape Valley?
Jimmy Harding: Obviously the expectations were extremely high after coming off the state championship win last year. But we’re a whole new team and to come out against a good Lenape team at their place and win in the way we did was just ridiculous.
MSS: Would you say the Patriots are your biggest Morris-Sussex rival since Coach Parzero played there?
JH: Definitely. Especially because, historically speaking, they have had an edge over us so every Lenape game is huge.
MSS: Did you feel like you were in a good position to block that FG?
JH: Matt Somers (fellow lineman) came up to me as we were lining up and said, “let’s do a little stunt”. He said, “you go out, I will go in” but right before the snap he changed it and said, “you go in, I go out” and I just got through the line and put my hand in the hair and I made the play.
MSS: Were you nervous you may lose the game when they were lining up to kick?
JH: No not at all. When we play the game, we don’t think about losing.
MSS: Now that Newton is on a 13-game win streak, are the expectations different from years past?
JH: Ever since Parzero came in the goal has always been 1-0 every week. Nothing’s changed.
MSS: What’s it like playing for Coach Parzero?
JH: Playing for Coach Parzero is awesome because when your coach wants to win just as bad as the players do, it really means something.
MSS: What was your welcome to varsity football moment?
JH: Playing Lenape Week 2 of my sophomore year was definitely my welcome to varsity moment.
MSS: Who is the best football player you played against?
JH: We talk about this a lot and it’s obviously Dave Jachera from Pequannock (’18 graduate) with out a doubt.
MSS: Who is the best player you played with?
JH: Billy Young was definitely the best player I ever played with. He was a special talent and I wish the rest of Morris-Sussex could have seen more of him.
MSS: What opposing stadium do you like to play in the most?
JH: Lenape because the fans are always so crazy there.
MSS: What would surprise people to know about your team?
JH: We are all vegans.
MSS: Who is the strongest player on your team?
JH: Mike Freda is the strongest player on our team both mentally and physically. He was the reason we won that game Friday night. He stepped up huge for us and you should expect big things from him in the future. Would not be surprised if he wins this award down the road.
MSS: Who is the funniest?
JH: Without a doubt Matt Somers. Words can’t describe what goes through that kids head.
MSS: Who is finishing 1-2-3 in the forty?
JH: 1. Me, 2. Matt Somers, 3. Tyler Miller. We all run sub 4.4.
MSS: Who’s finishing last?
JH: It’s a close call between Brigante and Kaiser
MSS: What’s the funniest thing Coach Parzero ever said?
JH: “IT’S HARDER WITH A DEFENSE”
MSS: Why has Newton and Pequannock been such a good rivalry?
JH: Honestly it has only been that way recently. Since my sophomore year and we lost to them in the playoffs, all we wanted to do was get revenge. We can only assume that they want that revenge this Friday Night in our house. It’s always a great game.
MSS: What can we expect from Newton the rest of the season?
JH: 1-0 every week. Happy never satisfied.
Best of luck Jimmy and congrats again on being the Player of the Week!