Max Michalczik does well to listen to his dad.
Jim Michalczik has been a college football coach since before his son was born, with stops at Oregon State and California as well as a stint with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Jim has been the Arizona Wildcats’ offensive line coach since 2013.
A coach’s son learns a few tricks of the trade. Like how to get noticed.
Max Michalczik took up longsnapping when he was in middle school. He hasn’t stopped since.
Northern Arizona and some Ivy League schools are recruiting Michalczik, one of Catalina Foothills’ senior leaders, as a tight end. The longsnapping is a bonus and, frankly, a way for him to get on the field faster. College-level longsnappers don’t just grow on trees, after all.
“It’s a little thing,” Michalczik said, “that can go a long way.”
It’s how Michalczik, whose Falcons take on Pusch Ridge Christian on Friday, first made the Foothills varsity team. Coach Jeff Scurran doesn’t call up freshmen unless they’re good enough to start, or at least see significant snaps.
Rhett Rodriguez started at quarterback in Game 1; Michalczik was called up by Game 4.
“His deep-snapping was so good, and he could help us at two positions. There was no reason to keep him there anymore,” Scurran said. “He gets better every game.”
Friday’s game will mark a milestone for Michalczik.
A year ago, give or take a couple of days, he returned to the Falcons sideline after suffering a major health scare.
It all started when Michalczik landed on his right hand while making a tackle against Cienega a few weeks prior. His hand puffed up like a balloon.
“That was real scary,” Scurran said. “His vitals were sinking, and they didn’t know what was wrong with him.”
Michalczik had an acute parvovirus, which is a respiratory infection, and he was hospitalized. Michalczik missed two games and lost nearly 20 pounds; he spent a third game on the sideline before finally returning against Marana.
Scurran noticed Michalczik’s toughness, and so did his Foothills teammates.
“We don’t hand anybody anything, and he came back and started the first week,” Scurran said. “That’s why he worked so hard this offseason because as good as he was, you can’t go through something like that and not have it impact you.
“When you have kids like Max doing what they do, that sets the tone for everybody.”
Michalczik worked out and bulked up this summer, and entered the season weighing 218 pounds. He worked on the mental side of football, too. Michalczik spent a lot of time at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility with his father, watching film.
NAU has offered Michalczik a scholarship, and he said he has received interest from Cal Poly, Montana State, Harvard, Cornell and Princeton. Michalczik said he has talked to his dad and UA special teams coach Charlie Ragle about walking on at the UA and snapping but will wait before pursuing it further.
“We’re just going to see how my senior season goes. They know me, and I know them, so it’s not too big of a deal,” Michalczik said. “I love U of A, but I’m doing my own thing. I don’t know what my plan is yet.”
Scurran said Michalczik is the best longsnapper he has ever coached at the high school level, and Scurran has no doubt about his college prospects. Michalczik wasn’t thinking about his college future as recently as a year ago. He’s spent part of this season working on a highlight tape for college coaches and is hopeful he can receive more offers.
Michalczik has come to appreciate the little things because it can all go away in a, well, snap. He knows that now.
“I’ve always been pretty healthy, which I’m happy about, and it was such an odd thing because it was so random,” he said. “But it made me more excited for this year because now I can get a full 10-game season plus playoffs and not have to worry about that. It’s a one-time-and-done thing.”