CHATHAM, NJ - There is a long list of positions Max Schelling can play - and play well - on the football field for Chatham.
"Depending on our game plan, we'll put him in different spots, which is great for us," Chatham head coach Jason Izsa said. "He gives us opportunities to put him in different spots because he's a multi-talented player. He can run the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, so it's nice to have him line up in different places to keep the defense a little off balance."
Last Sunday, the senior's best position turned out to be touchdown-maker. The two-way player scored four touchdowns in leading Chatham to a much-needed 37-6 win over Ferris.
Max Schelling is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
Chatham received a high rate of return every time the 6-1, 195-pound Schelling touched the football vs. Ferris. In the 16 times Schelling had the ball in his hands, he gained 291 all-purpose yards, a average of 18 yards per play. On the ground, he rushed 12 times for 161 yards, gaining 13.4 yards per carry.
"We've been needing him to get carries all year and he finally got it (Sunday) and he really excelled," Cougar senior Christian Cuttita said. "He's a running back and he's a good safety. He's not always used like that, but we like to have him everywhere."
It only took about four minutes of the game clock for Schelling to display the kind of impact he can have on a game. Here are some of the highlights:
- 48-yard run preceding his 3-yard TD burst with 2:59 left in the third quarter
- 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 31 seconds left in the third quarter
- 48-yard touchdown run 1:18 into the fourth quarter
Both Schelling and Cuttita were deep for the kickoff after a safety was scored against Ferris and Schelling asked Cuttita to flip the ball to him if he caught it. There was no need for the exchange. Unfortunately for Ferris, the ball went directly to Schelling and he broke through the middle and cut outside for his 75-yard touchdown sprint.
The last Chatham player to return a kick for a touchdown? It really is an incomplete list at this point, but a report in the Chatham Press from Oct. 19, 1967 does document a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown by Marty Kelly in Chatham Borough's game vs. Madison. Clearly a rare feat, Schelling had a feeling something special was going to happen before the kick.
"Yeah, I was telling (Cuttita), I want the ball, I was definitely feeling it at that point," Schelling said. "Everything was clicking in the second half. The pulling guards were able to push the guys out and that gave me some room to run."
When Chatham visits West Essex for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday, the West Essex fans might feel some deja vu when the announcer mentions one of the Schellings (Peter Schelling is a sophomore on the Cougar team). That's because their father, Steve, was a standout fullback/linebacker on the 1980 state championship West Essex High team. Steve Schelling led the Knights in touchdowns and was second in tackles when West Essex was ranked No. 1 in New Jersey by The Star-Ledger.
"I've seen the championship game a few times," Max Schelling said. "I've gone back to West Essex with him for some reunions and they've called him out to the 50-yard-line. He tells me everything he knows about reading plays. His advice as a running back is to hit the hole hard."
Perhaps, the most important advice Schelling has received from his father is how to interact in a positive way with his teammates and become a leader for the young Cougar squad.
"He's starting to come into that role," Izsa said. "He's starting to really accept the role of leader and helping guys out with positive feedback. He's really starting to grasp that captain role."
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.