MONTGOMERY: Patrizio adjusting to latest role


Mike Patrizio spent last year as a receiver for the Montgomery High football team

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Mike Patrizio just wants to be on the football field.
Whether that means the Montgomery High senior is playing quarterback, receiver or long snapper, all that matters is he is on the field helping his team.
“I love every minute of it,” Patrizio said. “I came into the season going back and forth between receiver and quarterback. Now I am settling into one spot and that makes my job easier and gives me more confidence week in and week out.”
Patrizio opened the season as the slot receiver for the Cougars. When Brian Thompson went down with an injury, Patrizio slipped into the quarterback spot. He’s been back and forth between positions but now has a hold on the quarterback spot.
Last week he threw for 164 yards and three touchdowns to help the Cougars to a much-needed 40-6 win at Plainfield.
“We need that win,” said Montgomery coach Zoran Milich, whose team improved to 2-3. “We played two tough games before this. We played Hunterdon Central and Bridgewater and they took it to us. It was good to get back in the win column.”
Patrizio has done his part to make sure that happens. The Cougars can get back to .500 with a win tonight against Warren Hills and their new quarterback is looking forward to the challenge.
“Opening day with Ridge I was in at receiver,” Patrizio said. “But when Brian went down with a concussion mid game that was kind of a get out and finish the game. The second week against Franklin was okay and we pulled through in the last second to win. That was a total team effort. I take no credit for that. It was all total team.
“Central was a tough game. They are big and put a lot of pressure on me. Plainfield, we needed the win to keep our playoff hopes alive. We know if we make the playoffs we won’t see anyone tougher than we have all year. If we can sneak our way in we can make some noise.”
Patrizio will do his part, no matter where he is on the field. For now, it looks like that means quarterback.
“Last year when I was a junior I played inside slot receiver and then Mitch Chugonov went don with an injury so they switched me outside,” he said. “I had to learn another position. This year I came in a receiver and knew if they gave me a chance I could play quarterback.
“I feel like I know the offense like the back of my hand. Our coaches do a great job of teaching us what we need to know. I’ve played baseball since I was little so I had the ability to throw. I kind of throw it like a baseball. I have worked on proper quarterback technique with Coach (Matt) Bastardi. He’s on me about my feet and posture and I have tried to focus on becoming more of a quarterback that just an athlete.”
Milich is happy to have someone to turn to when he needed a player who could handle the position.
“We’ve been rotating him because he was our best returning receiver,” Milich said. “But we had top move him when our quarterback was injured. We put him on JV a couple times last year to get a different look and every time he came in he did well.
“He has done it all for us. He’s been a long snapper, a punt returner, a holder on extra points and field goals. He’s also a guy on blocked punts. He does it all.”
And now he seems to have finally been given one position to play.
“When I was in Pop Warner I played running back,” Patrizio said. “In eighth grade our last our quarterback was hurt and the backup got hurt. The last half of the game I went in and ran around. My sophomore year I cleaned up a game against Linden and then started a game against Immaculata.
“Last year they would bring me down for some JV games if they needed guys. Every time out there you see something you have not seen before. I am just trying to learn and get better. Any way I can help the team I am going to try to help.”
And for now that means playing quarterback in a big game against Warren Hills.
“This is a big week for us,” Patrizio said. It is Homecoming and there is nothing better than playing in front of our home fans. I have won county championships for baseball and played under the Patriots lights three times (at TD Bank Park). But there is no greater feeling than Friday nights with your boys and the whole school cheering you on with the band and dance team and cheerleaders. Everyone stays positive and is there to support us. It’s a great feeling.” 