Nick Gizzo: Offensive Player of the Year

| Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, TRIB-LIVE

Nick Gizzo didn’t know in the moment just what he was accomplishing during Fox Chapel’s game Sept. 29 at Moon.

It being a road game, the public-address announcer didn’t note when Gizzo surpassed 200 rushing yards in the first half — he learned that from a Fox Chapel assistant coach at halftime. Nor did he find out until the next day that he broke the school’s single-game record for rushing, with 312 yards on just 14 carries in the Foxes’ 49-6 victory.

“I was just feeling it that game, I guess,” Gizzo said. “I don’t know; I just did what I did. My O-line was great, and I just did what I know how to do.”

Gizzo, Fox Chapel’s senior quarterback, spent plenty of time in the zone this season. With senior running back Micah Morris, he formed a lethal one-two punch that defenses struggled to contain all season.

Morris provided the power, Gizzo the speed. Gizzo rushed for 1,278 yards and a team-high 19 touchdowns as he and Morris became the first Fox Chapel teammates in 20 years to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground in the regular season.

Not to be made one-dimensional, Gizzo added 896 passing yards and five touchdowns.

“I think I performed well. I couldn’t have done anything I did without my O-line, all of them,” Gizzo said. “Micah, too. He helped me a lot, and all my receivers. But I think I performed well as an individual.”

The offensive output helped Fox Chapel reach the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs, the team’s first appearance since 2014, and the Foxes came within a touchdown of knocking off No. 1 Penn-Trafford.

Because of his efforts, Gizzo — who picked up his first scholarship offer this week, from Lawrence Tech (Mich.) and plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps by majoring in business wherever he goes — is the Valley News Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year, edging his teammate Morris, Highlands’ Seth Cohen and Freeport’s Austin Romanchak for the honors.

How do you feel about the season overall?

I think we had a great season. We all worked so hard to achieve what we achieved. We’ve been working a long time to get to the playoffs, and we got that. But ultimately, we didn’t reach our goal of a championship, but we still had a great season.

What was the most memorable moment?

I think for sure the last drive against Woodland Hills when we drove down and scored on offense to go up 22-21 and then we stopped them on defense, and we won that game.

How important was it to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014?

It was so important. When we were freshmen, we watched the seniors do that, and we all really wanted to do that. We all wanted to do what they did and better, and we worked for four years to achieve that and achieved it. We tried to change the whole culture of football at Fox Chapel. That’s one of the things we wanted to do.

How much do you think the underclassmen can build off those accomplishments?

I think they can, if they really want to and work hard, I think they can achieve what we did and better.

You seemed pretty disappointed not getting all-conference.

Yeah, I was. But it happens. I’m not knocking anybody who did get it because they’re all deserving, but I just think I deserved it.

When you broke the record against Moon, did you realize what you were doing as it was happening?

I had no idea. In the first half, I had no idea. My coach came up to me and said, “You just rushed for 236 yards in the first half.” I couldn’t believe it.

Did they make an announcement at the game?

No, they didn’t. I didn’t even know until a day later, the next morning.

How much did you and Micah feed off each other?

Me and Micah have been together since eighth grade now. We just know how to play with each other, we know what we both can do, and you can’t stop us both. No team can stop us both, so that’s just what we do. We just work off each other.

What’s your best attribute as a football player?

I think my speed and quickness and making sure everybody knows what to do, making sure we get the right play call in.

Are there any players you look up to?

One guy I’ve always loved is Peyton Manning, for sure. He was the first jersey I ever had. Just the way he prepared for the game, the way he loved the game for that many years just really rubbed off on me.

Do you have a favorite Manning commercial?

I don’t, but I love seeing him on TV.

So were you a Steelers fan, too?

I was a Peyton Manning fan, but I’m a Steelers fan, too.

Any college teams you root for?

Pitt’s probably my favorite team, but I just like watching college football.

Who’s your pick for the national championship?

Oklahoma. I like Baker Mayfield a lot. I love how he plays, how he’s confident.

Were there any players you tried to mold yourself after?

Not really. I just did what I could do. I didn’t really base it off anybody else.

Outside of football, what are your favorite things to do?

Hang out with friends, hang out with family, stuff like that.

What’s your favorite place to go with friends?

Go to eat. We go to wing night on Wednesdays with the football team, so we still do that.

Where do you go?

Middle Road Inn. It’s a local place. Best wings.

Do you have a sauce you like to get?

MRI sauce. It’s their own special sauce. I don’t even know how to describe it.

Favorite TV show?

I like “SportsNation.” I just like how they try to have fun with sports.

Do you have any nicknames?

Everybody always calls me by my last name, Gizzo or Giz. That’s about it.

Any supersitions?

I have an undershirt I’ve worn every game since eighth grade. It’s a Nike undershirt cutoff. (It’s) red.