HHS Alum in the NFL

Jessica Terrizzi, Staff Writer

Click here for image: Terrizzi

The name “Terrizzi” is still well-known among athletes in the area. Not only was Hawthorne High School alumni, Michael Terrizzi, a part of the class of  1971’s record-breaking football team, but he is also believed to be the only HHS graduate to play for a National Football League team  and it’s only High School All-American.

Terrizzi started playing football as soon as he could. When he was 8-years-old, he began playing for the Hawthorne Cubs. He played as a halfback until he was 10, and after that he was always a quarterback.

During high school, Terrizzi’s team was the most successful in HHS history. The team was undefeated in Terrizzi’s junior and senior years. They were the first and only Hawthorne Bear’s team to go undefeated for two years in a row (although they did have one tie during his junior year.) Because of this achievement, Terrizzi along with players from the class of ’71 were honored during half-time at one of the Bear’s home games in the fall of 2011.

After graduating high school, Terrizzi went on to play college football. He was recruited by over 150 colleges, including Ivy League and military academies because of his good grades and athletic skill. Terrizzi decided to attend Purdue University because he said “they were interested in my mind, not just my body.” When he toured the campus, he met with a professor in communications who impressed him. Purdue was the only school of all those that recruited him to have him meet with faculty. He later went on to major in communications and minor in Radio/TV broadcasting. He also liked the school because the football team ran a pro-style offense. In 1974, Terrizzi was the starting  quarterback for the team that beat defending national champion  Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and was the last Purdue QB to beat Notre Dame in South Bend for 30 years thereafter . He also punted and set the still-standing record for the longest punt at Indiana University stadium .

After college, Terrizzi went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers. Getting the opportunity to play on this level was a dream come true. Terrizzi remembers feeling rewarded for all the hard work and effort he put in for all those years.  He played for only a short period of time, but still felt satisfaction that he proved  he could compete at this high a level.

The briefness of  his pro career did not slow Terrizzi down for long. After tryouts with the Jets and the Canadian Football  League, he decided to stay in California to study law at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.  Today, he is a lawyer in San Rafael, California at a firm called Plastiras and Terrizzi Attorneys at Law. A recent advertisement for the firm connected Terrizzi’s football roots with his successful law practice by showing his number seven in action.  What the ad doesn’t say, but we all know, is that he is proud of his roots and that his family remains back in Hawthorne, NJ, giving him an opportunity to come back and  visit as often as he can.