WOODSTOCK – Marian Central’s football coaches and players appreciated the manner in which Patsy Ricciardi filled the dutiful role of underclassman and teammate over the past two seasons.
Ricciardi made an impression at receiver, although he had played quarterback most of his life. He showed speed, toughness and helped the Hurricanes to back-to-back Class 5A playoff quarterfinal appearances.
Now it’s Ricciardi’s time to do what he does best, as the junior moves back to quarterback for an offense that, despite losing two quarterbacks, A.J. Golembiewski and Gavin Scott, could pack even more punch this fall.
Three starters return on the offensive line, two of the Hurricanes’ top receivers are back, and Ricciardi will become the focal point, a dual-threat player whose father, Ron, is the offensive coordinator and a former Arena Football League quarterback himself.
“The past two years, they thought I could help our team more by playing receiver,” Ricciardi said. “I just did all I could at that spot and waited for my opportunity to compete at quarterback. I’m happy to get back into it. It’s always been my dream to play high school quarterback.”
Ricciardi (6-foot, 200 pounds) caught 51 passes over the past two seasons. He was called up to the varsity a few games into his freshman year, then missed two games with a chest injury last year. He and Scott both were hurt in the third game of the season, so Golembiewski, Marian’s starting wide receiver and third-string quarterback, took over. Golembiewski continued at quarterback the rest of the season, while Ricciardi caught 27 passes for 339 yards, second on the team to Bryce Radcliffe.
Scott was a bruising runner and the Hurricanes’ best running back. Marian coach Mike Maloney looks forward to seeing Ricciardi running the offense.
“He’s really dynamic,” Maloney said. “He’s a heck of an athlete. He has open-field speed, with the ability to take it the distance. He’s going to be similar to Gavin and what we did with him, but I believe he has a little more giddy-up. He can throw the rock. We’re excited for that.”
Ron Ricciardi was coached in the AFL by Jeff Christensen, a former NFL quarterback who runs Throw It Deep Academy for quarterbacks. Patsy Ricciardi has worked with Christensen’s camps for several years.
“I feel like I can put the ball in the right place when it’s needed,” Patsy Ricciardi said. “I still have some time working on coverages. I feel I can get the ball there and make the right reads for my team.”
Patsy Ricciardi hopes to put some of what he learned from playing receiver, such as how defensive backs react and cover certain routes, to use at quarterback.
“Patsy brings it all to the table,” Radcliffe said. “He can throw it, he can run it, he’ll do whatever the coach needs him to do. He’s the most coachable kid out there. He was my quarterback when I was a sophomore; he played up with us. He throws a really good ball, he’s really confident in what he does.”
With his father as offensive coordinator, Patsy Ricciardi is constantly thinking about football.
“He’s engulfed with it because it’s a constant learning process,” Maloney said. “He gets that extra film session he might not get if he wasn’t related to the coach. That part of the development, the mental aspect, is very much expanded.”
It will help that Marian has Thor Paglialong, who has committed to NCAA Division I Air Force, at center, along with returning starters Jayden Thiergood and Danny Dusik at tackles. Maloney is looking at sophomore Mason Schwalbach at one guard spot, with Shane Gibson and Colin Vallee competing for the other guard position. Joey Pawlak, a transfer from Huntley, also is working for time on the line.
Maloney sees the receiving group, led by Radcliffe and Charlie Kramer, as a strength. And running back Luke Rogers had some meaningful carries last season as a sophomore.
“I feel like our offense is going to be great,” Patsy Ricciardi said. “It starts up front; the linemen are looking real good in practice. Skills [guys], we have some work to do, but I think we can get to a point where it will be tough to stop us.”