Fernandez, a senior running back/wide receiver and team captain, had a big game under the lights at Franklin Field in the Friars’ 21-12 win against LaSalle Sept. 9. The Wayne resident rushed for 114 yards and scored Malvern’s first touchdown on an 11-yard pass reception, catching the ball in the end zone opposite the Franklin Field scoreboard. He also handles the punting chores for Malvern, and is a kickoff and punt returner. In the spring, he plays lacrosse for the Friars.
Q: Tell us a little about playing at Franklin Field under the lights Sept. 9. What did you like best about playing there, where the Eagles won their last NFL championship in 1960? What was your most vivid memory from the experience?
A: Playing at Franklin Field was an awesome experience and was an amazing environment to play in. Walking out of the tunnel at the start of the game gave me the chills. It was one of those moments I will never forget. My most vivid memory was looking up at the scoreboard after the game and then running off the field with my teammates into the crowd of Friar Nation.
Q: You scored Malvern’s first touchdown on an 11-yard TD pass reception. Can you describe the play for us, how it unfolded? What was your most vivid memory of that play?
A: Before the ball was snapped I had an idea that Kevin [Doyle] was going to throw it to me based off the coverage I saw. I vividly remember seeing the ball coming towards me and thinking to myself, “I’m going to have to lay out for this.” After popping back up and flipping the ball to the ref, I was met by my cheerful teammates. It was a really exciting play.
Q: What (to you) is the biggest key to making a successful punt? Do you find that your kicking skills are better suited to punting instead of placekicking – are different skills required for each?
A: The biggest thing for me when punting is to make sure it doesn’t get blocked. Every now and then I’ll take off down the sidelines with the ball on our rugby punt, which keeps teams honest on their pursuit to block the punt. I definitely think that I am more suited to do rugby punting rather than placekicking. I enjoy punting, it’s just another chance to get on the field and make a play.
Q: You had good success running the football against LaSalle at Franklin Field, gaining 114 yards. What do you think was the key to your success?
A: The key to our success running the ball against LaSalle was our offensive line. They dominated the line of scrimmage, which really opened up our playbook.
Q: You also are a kickoff and punt returner for the Friars. Can you share with us your most memorable kick return – how the play unfolded, your role in it?
A: My most memorable kickoff return would probably be the return I had against Chestnut Hill my sophomore year. It was a deep, bouncing kick that nearly went out of bounds along the right sideline. I scooped up the ball and trusted the return scheme we had put in by taking a few strides up right and then cutting it back left across the field where I had a few blockers waiting. I made a few moves, got some good blocks, and took off down the left sideline. Unfortunately, I was tripped up somewhere around their 30 yard line but it put us in great field position in a very meaningful game.
Q: You wear No. 5 for the Friars. Is there a reason you chose that number?
A: My mom’s favorite number is 5 and I just personally like the number so when I saw it was available at the beginning of my sophomore year, I got it right away.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: On game days, I hydrate as much as I can. All through the day I will be drinking Pedialyte and water. We go to Mass as a team before every game and Father Flynn always delivers an inspirational speech which really puts us in the right frame of mind. Also, I really like to listen to music to pump me up, calm me down, and get me focused.
Q: Who have been your biggest football mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: My coaches at my grade school, St. Katharine’s of Siena, taught me so much about the game. Coach Pach, Coach Guyer, Coach Flick, Coach Doyle, and Coach Mamula all helped me develop my game at St. Katharine’s. My freshman year at Malvern I was again blessed with amazing and dedicated coaches. Coach Doc (head coach of the freshman team) really made it a fun and memorable season, as we went undefeated. These past few years with Coach [Aaron] Brady have been awesome. He loves the game and really cares about all of us. Coach Brady, along with other coaches on the staff at Malvern, have redefined hard work for me. Coach Brady’s passion for the game is contagious and it brings out the best in all of us. My grandfather, Gompy, also shares a passion for football with me and it is awesome to see the pride he takes in my game.
Q: What colleges are among your current favorites? What do you think you might like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: I really like Penn, Cornell and Johns Hopkins. They are all amazing schools with great coaches. I am considering a major in either medicine or business but nothing is decided yet.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Malvern Prep? What sparked your interest in each of these activities?
A: I am on the lacrosse team at Malvern. I am also a member of the Science National Honor Society and the Black Friar Chronicle. On top of those activities, I participate in various intramural sports at Malvern. Malvern offers so many things that I wish I could get involved in more clubs and activities.
Fun facts – Zac Fernandez
Favorite TV show: The League.
Favorite movie: Lone Survivor.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Favorite pre-game meal: Pork chop and rice.
Favorite color: Blue.
Date of birth: May 13, 1999 in Wayne, Pa.
Family members: Ray Fernandez (Dad), Sally Fernandez (mom), Caroline Fernandez (sister)
Person I admire most: “My parents. They both are so selfless and hardworking.:
Favorite book: The Hunger Games.
Favorite place to visit: Malvern Prep.
(Note: To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)