If the last 70 seconds of Hamilton High School vs. Bishop Gorman High School hadn’t taken place, I would have thought the world of Hamilton quarterback Nicco Marchiol.
In the last 70 seconds of the Hamilton vs. Bishop Gorman game, Marchiol cemented his place among the best quarterback performances I’ve ever seen before.
Trailing national powerhouse Bishop Gorman, MaxPrep’s seventh-ranked team in the nation, 24-7 with just over a minute remaining in the game, it looked like it was over for Hamilton. Marchiol and his team had played well, well enough to not let Bishop Gorman pull away, but the overwhelming barrage of top recruits was looking like too much to overcome.
A 46-yard field goal from Hamilton kicker Matthew Krneta closed the gap to two touchdowns, but with a two touchdown deficit and just over a minute to go, it looked like curtains for Hamilton — especially with an already shaken up Marchiol who had been sacked six times and on the run all night.
Of course, Hamilton needed a little luck, and Lady Luck smiled upon the Huskies with a successful onside kick. On the ensuing drive, Hamilton banged his elbow off a defender’s helmet, drawing blood and leaving him shaking his left arm — his throwing arm — painfully. Grimacing through the pain, he waved off athletic trainers and trotted back out to the huddle.
On the next snap, Marchiol took the snap and rolled out to his left, throwing a dart to the sideline for a big gain. But a big hit just as he threw the ball left him sprawled on his back, slowly getting to his feet after the heavy hit. It looked like Hamilton head coach Michael Zdebski was going to finally pull Marchiol, preserving his body for the rest of the season, but after a timeout he was back out on the field.
Marchiol threw a quick strike to teammate Michael Masunas for a touchdown, narrowing the Bishop Gorman lead to one score, but Hamilton needed another perfect onside kick. And they got it.
Limping and covered in blood, Marchiol trotted back out onto the field and immediately found his favorite target, wide receiver Christian Anaya, for a quick 11-yard gain. Marchiol showed off his legs on the next play, taking a quarterback draw through the heart of the Bishop Gorman defense for a big gain to put Hamilton in scoring range — taking another borderline hit in the process.
With time ticking away, under 10 seconds left in the game, Marchiol hit his receiver on the outside shoulder and the 22-yard strike brought Hamilton within one point of Bishop Gorman. Of course, the Huskies went for two. Marchiol took the snap, rolled to his left and darted his way through the Gaels’ defense to secure one of the biggest wins of the high school football season and lead the Huskies to 18 unanswered points in just over a minute of play to win 25-24.
NICCO MARCHIOL FOR 2!!! @MarchiolNicco rolls left and punches it in for the 2-point conversion – @Husky_Football7 takes the lead over Bishop Gorman 25-24 with 8 seconds left @AZHSFB @gridironarizona @JeremyKitamura @michaelzdebski pic.twitter.com/ef4l6d2zBi
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) September 18, 2021
Marchiol’s final stats don’t jump off the page, but his heart, toughness and talent shined on national television against one of the best high school teams in the nation. He threw for 140 yards on 15-of-22 passing and three touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for (?) yards and the game-winning two point conversion.
Rolling into the end zone on the successful two-point conversion, he bounced back up into his teammates’ triumphant arms but ended up on his back just outside the end zone, perhaps stunned with the quick turnaround and perhaps unable to physically get up. A few teammates helped Marchiol back to the sideline, his arms around their shoulders as he returned as the valiant hero.
It was certainly one of the most heroic efforts I’ve ever seen from a quarterback — at any level of football.
A Quarterback West Virginia Should Be Excited For
Against a defense that had him on the run nearly every possession, Marchiol showed off his pocket awareness, evasiveness and perhaps toughness most of all against a Bishop Gorman defense that regularly overwhelmed the Hamilton offensive line.
Aside from a masterful first possession drive in which Marchiol hit every throw — and added a 12-yard rush for good measure — and ended with a quick-strike touchdown, it wasn’t easy sailing for Hamilton.
Hamilton strikes first. Huskies drive right down the field and Nicco Marchiol finds Tre Spivey for the 7 yard touchdown.
— Zach Alvira (@ZachAlvira) September 18, 2021
Marchiol made some nice throws on the first drive, showing excellent touch and placement on his passes — whether dropping bubble screens in the basket or throwing ropes to receivers downfield and his pocket presence and functional mobility allow him to escape collapsing pockets and run for chunk plays.
First drive for @Husky_Football7 – Senior QB @MarchiolNicco steps up in the pocket and throws a dart to @men_rachana who makes a fantastic diving catch. Hamilton threatening early pic.twitter.com/QiNbS6QYgk
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) September 18, 2021
Marchiol’s left-handed throw certainly looks cool, but more importantly, obviously, he’s able to make throws all across the field with nice zip and timing. He only missed on a handful of throws all night, putting balls behind his receivers a couple of times. His interception came on a 4th-and-19 throw into triple coverage that basically served as a punt.
After the first drive, the Bishop Gorman defense got its licks on Marchiol. And if it wasn’t the six sacks, it was the big shots he took in diving into the maw of the defense for fourth down conversions or taking shots to make throws.
In the second and third quarters, Marchiol wasn’t given much time to sit back in the pocket and drive the ball downfield, but he was quick in getting the ball to his receivers and tight ends on slants and dump-offs opposed to forcing shots into an extremely quick and talented secondary.
Marchiol did take six sacks on the night, but his mobility, pocket presence and toughness flashes as positives at the next level. Bishop Gorman’s defense featured a lot of ESPN Top 300 recruits in 2022 and 2023, so it wasn’t as if he was playing against typical high schoolers.
In evading the rush, Marchiol showed off quick feet and the ability to keep his eyes downfield in turning losses into neutral nets or even positive gains. He’s not the fastest player on the field, but he certainly has enough speed to keep defenses honest, turning RPOs and quarterback draws into big gains on the ground.
He’s clearly a pass-first quarterback, but his legs will be able to get him out of trouble and even lead to positive gains at the next level.
Not to be lost in the insanity of the upset win for Hamilton, Marchiol flashed a lot of tools that should have WVU fans excited for the years ahead. With a 6-foot-2, 220 pound frame, he should be ready to compete directly out of high school next year.