Westmoreland County high school football Q&A: Derry’s Max Malis

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | 5:46 PM


Max Malis lists his three positions on the Derry football team as defensive end, offensive tackle and … fullback?

“Well, just like a fullback or sniffer (hybrid player),” he said. “I just block for us.”

Does that mean the Trojans’ senior — all 6-foot-3, 270 pounds of him — might get to carry the football, maybe at the goal line? Maybe even get a chance to score a touchdown?

Even if it’s a one-in-a-million chance, it still is a chance.

“It would be pretty cool,” Malis said. “But I don’t think they would give me the ball because they wouldn’t want to embarrass Justin Huss with my skills.”

Oh, those cheeky linemen.

Malis has been a dependable run-blocker and run-stuffer for the Trojans (9-2), who will take on Central Valley (10-1) on Friday night in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals at North Allegheny.

He is part of a senior-strong unit that has helped standout tailback Justin Huss run for 2,003 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. Huss’s last three games saw him pile up 304, 405 and 200 yards on the ground.

Derry has had another efficient season with its rushing attack and old-school, block-and-tackle approach. Malis fits right in.

The blue-collar Trojans have no intention of deviating from their line of action as they attempt to make it to Heinz Field for the second year in a row.

“The whole group has been playing together since they were young,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said. “They are a joy to work with, and Max is one of those guys. He saw some time as a freshman, and we really needed him to step up as a sophomore. He is one of our senior leaders, and he’s been a good one for us.”

Malis, who has an offer to play at Air Force, is the subject of this week’s Westmoreland football Q&A.

What was it like to play in last week’s 28-27 overtime win over Beaver Falls?

Stressful, but it was a great game to be a part of. And it was a great memory for our last home game.

You have a front-row seat to watch Justin Huss run the ball. What is that like?

It’s pretty exciting to watch him. The defense tries to chase him, but he just gets away. His breakaway speed is amazing. No one in the WPIAL can compare to that. We see him get a block and he runs another 30 yards downfield.

Derry will have played Central Valley three times in four years in the playoffs. Does that familiarity help?

It’s different teams, so I don’t think that matters too much. They have some skill and a good line. If we play like we can, it should be a solid night.

What makes your offensive line so good?

We had a bond. We’ve been playing together since seventh grade.

What was it like to play in the championship at Heinz Field last year?

Coming out of that tunnel and seeing the whole Derry community there to support us was amazing. We had so many people there.

Which lineman can eat the most chicken wings in one sitting?

Probably (senior) Lucas Ciocco. I have seen him eat like 30 or 40 wings (at Dino’s). Gavin Adams is probably second. He’s good for an easy 30.

Any unique hobbies or hidden talents?

Nope. I lift, hang out with my friends and play video games. I’m a boring kid and I’m not very talented.

Who has the best nickname on the team?

Ciocco. We call him “Chico.” Coach Sweeney gave him that name.

What is the best advice you’ve received from Coach Sweeney?

Focus on the little things. The little things can take you far in life.

Who are your favorite college and pro football teams?

Ohio State and the Steelers.

Are the Steelers turning things around?

I sure hope so.

Did you ever ride on one of the motorcycles or fire trucks that always park in the stadium lot and rev up the crowd during home games?

No, but that might be cool. We have a crazy atmosphere at home games.

How will Derry fans remember Max Malis?

Hopefully as a humble kid who worked hard every play.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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