Every team needs a player who just wants to play football. Teams need guys who don’t care if they are playing quarterback or guard – they just want to be on the field. The Park Wolfpack have one of those guys – Max Giannini. He does not have the prototypical size to play the position he played for the Wolfpack last season – nor the position he expects to play this season. Giannini doesn’t care – he just wants to be on the field somewhere, helping his team win.
The team had trouble winning early in the 2018 season.
“We got off to a slow start,” Giannini said. “We had a couple of tough games right off the bat. Our team wasn’t quite together at the time. We weren’t playing up to our potential. As the season went on, we got closer as a team, and then we had a couple of games where we took off.”
After starting 0-3, Park won five of their last seven games – including a round one victory in the Section 3AAAAA playoffs.
“Offensively we found a good fit for our running backs. Once they got going, they stepped up, and we ran the ball well. Then our passing game picked up and running out of the spread we could run and pass.”
“Defensively we started to get more physical,” Giannini continued. “We all put our heads down and started to play ball. We had a nose for the ball. The defense ran a 3-4, and we as outside linebackers held the edge on the line of scrimmage, and our middle linebackers got after it. I felt that was a big part of our defense.”
In pre-season practice, the team had a need on the defensive side of the ball, and Giannini filled it.
“I am not a big kid, but they needed somebody to play outside linebacker last year. Where I would line up would depend on the team we were playing. If they had an athletic tight end who could run routes, I would line up over him since I am more of a defensive back type and could drop into coverage.”
Defensive back is where he likely will play two years from now.
“I am good in coverage,” Giannini told northstarfootballnews.com, “and am being recruited as a safety for college. I think I have a nose for the ball. I study film day and night, and feel like, before the play, I am usually right with my pre-snap reads. (Former Wolfpack linebacker) Payton Schaefer took me under his wing last year, and we watched film and formed a good bond. Because of that, I think I have a nose for the ball and have a good mental game.”
Giannini is comfortable in many spots. He played outside linebacker coming up in junior high, switched to safety as a sophomore, and move back to outside linebacker as a junior. He will be changing positions again for his senior season.
“We just got a new coaching staff,” the 6’0″ 185-pound linebacker said. “We have a new offense and a new defense, so we have been focused on getting our basics down for our offense and defense. (The players) have spent a lot of time on the practice field and in meeting rooms – with and without coaches. I believe film is the biggest part of football. We are working hard to make sure we have our offense and defense down before camp. I am going to be a hybrid linebacker/defensive back.”
Although he might not be starting, Giannini also expects to play some running back as a senior.
“I usually play a fullback spot and do a lot of blocking. I like to get my pads into those linebackers. When I run, I like to get downhill.”
Last offseason he spent time in the weight room and on the track.
“In the winter, I was working out with the football team. In the morning I would get some running in, and then after school, we would lift weights. This spring, I worked out in the morning and then ran track after school. I ran the 100, 200 and did the long jump.”
He also started to get his name out there with colleges.
“I went to a few junior days – North Dakota, North Dakota State, Mankato, South Dakota State and went on an unofficial visit to Northern Iowa. I have one offer from Minnesota-Crookston. Most of the schools are recruiting me as a defensive back, but Crookston wants me as an outside linebacker.”
Being recruited has been a dream come true for Giannini, but it has also been tough.
“The recruiting process has been a lot more stressful than I thought it would be, but it has also been fun,” Giannini admitted. “It has been fun to travel around and feel wanted for something I truly want to do. Since I was in third grade, I knew I wanted to play college football. I don’t care what level I just want to play.”
Right now, the Park senior has mainly DII schools looking at him.
“The coaches like that I am not a huge kid, but they know I love to hit, and they know I love the game. They like that I like to ask questions and want to learn more about football. They like that I have a nose for the ball and have a lot of versatility.”
He has a lot of versatility and a willingness to use it.