From the moment quarterback Mike Husni and wide receiver John Maldonado stepped on the field together in 2019, they’ve had a connection that has blossomed from young players with the potential to bonafide superstars in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
During their junior years together in 2021, Husni was selected to the All-NJAC Second Team Offense, while also ranking second in the NJAC in passing efficiency and third in total offense.
Maldonado was selected to the All-NJAC First Team Offense, on top of leading the conference in receptions with 64, a career-high, and notching a career-high 873 yards, as well. Maldonado was also recognized by the Philadelphia Inquirer, being selected to their Academic All-Area Football Team.
There is no doubt that the duo’s connection together has served a large purpose for those outcomes.
“Coming in three, four years ago, whenever I first transferred here, John [Maldonado] was our No. 3 option,” Husni said. “Throwing to John was just so easy; we made that connection really easy back then. The COVID year, we would throw every day that we didn’t have football. So just that connection, being on the same page, it’s not hard, throwing to No. 7.”
Without a relentless work ethic, the combo of Husni and Maldonado would not have been able to reach the heights they have. A lot of their hard work can be attributed to one another.
“We both play a big role [in pushing each other] because we both know that we can keep getting better. We’re both guys that don’t get satisfied, don’t get stagnant in our approach to the game,” Maldonado said. “I think we play a big role with each other, just with the offense and team as a whole, both of us being captains, just keeping everybody hungry.”
“I don’t even have to push John, he’s one of the hardest workers on the team, you ask any of the coaches, they’ll say that,” Husni added. “Sometimes we just have to depend on one another, because as we all know, things don’t happen throughout the game that we like, so he’s there to pick me up, I’m there to pick him up, and we just have to pick each other up and the team up. We’re always on the same page with that, it’s really easy having someone like that on the team.”
A connection as explosive as Husni and Maldonado’s usually stems mostly from a lot of talent on the field. Both Husni and Maldonado have helped each other out very often in that aspect.
“He knows what I want from him, I know what he wants from me,” Husni said. “Especially when I’m scrambling, he knows where I want him to be. It’s kinda like that telepathic talk that we have. I’ll just look at him, he’ll look at me, we’ll look at the spot, even if it’s a pre-snap. That’s where I want you to be, that’s where I want you to end up. And at the end of the day, 50/50 ball with John, he’s gonna come down with that ten out of ten times.”
Every single QB-WR connection, at every level of football, has its signature moments. It could be anywhere from a game-winner, to a big game, even just a simple first-down moment.
Husni and Maldonado found common ground when discussing the moment they realized what they had was special.
“It started at the end of my sophomore season, against TCNJ,” Maldonado said. “I had a breakout game and I had the game-winning touchdown. That kind of carried into the COVID off-season, where we had a lot of downtime. That carried into my junior season where we both had some success, which was last year. So I would say that the TCNJ game started it off for us.”
Although this season will be their last year playing together at Rowan, the duo has plenty of future plans for themselves.
“We already have plans of playing a Sunday league down here for flag football. Me, him, Grosso, a bunch of other guys that were on the team, we already have that all planned out. The connection will be done for Rowan, but otherwise, we still have that thing going,” Husni said. “Hopefully my kid will be throwing to his kid, and vice versa. We’ll have those bloodlines running deep.”
Mike Husni and John Maldonado’s work here at Rowan is not done yet. They are hungry to accomplish even more. Their quest for a title will continue on Saturday, Oct. 15, when they hit the road to play conference rival William Paterson University.
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