Huntington quarterback JP Paci culminated a great comeback story by capturing All-County honors at the Suffolk Football Coaches Association All-County banquet on Monday night at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge.
After tearing his ACL midway through his junior season, John Paul Paci found himself at a crossroads. The teenager opted for immediate surgery to give himself the best chance to return healthy as a senior and to lead his Huntington High School teammates as their quarterback.
John Paul Paci IV is a member of Huntington's Class of 2019.
Mr. Paci tore his ACL in a game played at Bay Shore and within 72 hours he had successful surgery in Alabama. Even before he returned to New York he completed his first physical therapy session. Many more months of rehabilitation followed. It was tough going and at times progress was measured by the smallest of gains, but the teenager steadily regained his strength.
The spring and summer were spent training and sharpening his skills. Mr. Paci helped lead his teammates through off-season workouts. When practice commenced in August, he was ready to resume his role as the team’s field general.
Behind an almost entirely new offensive line, Mr. Paci completed 74 of 126 passes for 1,251 and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed 23 times for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns, almost exclusively on broken plays that saw him make the best of the situation for Huntington.
When a team sees its quarterback go down with a serious injury that requires surgery it deflates everyone. But when those same players watch their teammate rise again and come running back on the field after working so hard to regain his good health and skills it is uplifting, motivating and downright inspiring.
By any account, Mr. Paci enjoyed an excellent season, leading the offensive, helping to push the team in practice sessions and keeping everyone focused before, during and after games.
A clean-cut, articulate and respectful young man, Mr. Paci is respected and admired by Huntington High School’s faculty and coaching staff.
“He is a credit to his family, his team, his school and the Huntington community,” said Huntington head coach Steve Muller, who accompanied Mr. Paci to this week’s awards dinner. “In this day and age when folks of all ages want instant gratification and are always looking for the easy way out, it is refreshing to come across a young man like John Paul Paci. He easily could have used his torn ACL as an excuse to bypass the grueling surgery and rehabilitation exercises he experienced. Instead he summoned every bit of courage and energy he could muster and set a goal to return to the field even better than he was when he got carried off at Bay Shore last year. By any standard of measurement he surpassed his goal and in the process inspired not only his teammates and coaches but the entire Huntington High School community.”