By Jimmy Dickerson '25
Everybody knows that Danny Phung is a fun student from Vietnam who loves football and basketball, but few know how much he loves being a member of the yearbook staff.
Phung is not just any regular dorm student, he is involved in lots of athletic activities. He played in the Homecoming game against Fishburne. Danny also is very passionate about basketball. He also really enjoys the yearbook class. It is his favorite class.
The running back was a star player during the Fishburne game. He scored a touchdown and everyone in the stands went wild. That was definitely a highlight of the game. Phung did not play a huge amount of time in the game, but when he did he played his hardest.
When Phung scored the whole student section went wild and his teammates immediately ran onto the field to pick him up and cheer for him.
“The touchdown was an amazing feeling,” Phung said. “When you are running from opponents into the endzone you feel this rush and a call of instinct that makes me feel alive.”
That sounds like an amazing feeling. Phung says that he really enjoys football, but that isn’t his only sport.
Phung is currently playing basketball and he sounds extremely passionate about it.
“It is the first sport I ever played and it has a special place in my heart,” he said. “If I was taller, I would definitely go all out in basketball.”
Phung loves basketball and football. He is a true athlete, he enjoys his sport and he puts the work in.
Phung radiates positivity and is overall just a great person and a wonderful addition at North Cross School.
Phung’s hobby is playing video games, but he quit playing video games because he wants to focus on football and basketball.
Some of Phung’s key inspirations are his mother because of her work ethic, and fellow teammates, Moritz Schmoranzer, Kam Johnson, Ian Cann. He is also motivated by Kobe Bryant’s legendary work ethic. Phung in going places with his driving persistence, great enthusiasm, and his athleticism.
By Gracean Ratliff '23
When the basketball student section was lacking school spirit, a mascot was the best solution. The mascot had to be someone with passion, enthusiasm, and zest to fire up the crowd, Moritz Schmoranzer ‘24 was the best option.
“It takes someone who is very special and who has a lot of spirit,” SCA Advisor Susan Wenk said.
When the rivalry game against Roanoke Catholic came around, Schmorantzer went to Upper School Director Stephen Belderes, and told him he wanted to wear the Raider costume.
While the game went on, he stayed in the costume the whole time, bringing spirit and energy to the student section. During half time, the Celtics mascot came out challenging Schmoranzer to a brawl. After a hard fought battle, Schmorantzer was declared the winner. Despite the outcome of the game, he kept the student section pumped up the whole time.
“He gave us so much extra spirit for a very tough game,” Wenk said. “He kept us happy in his costume.”
Moritz “Schmo” Schmoranzer is much more than the man behind the mask. All the way from Bavaria, Germany, Schmo came to the United States to pursue his future in football. Through Gridiron Imports, an organization that helps European athletes come to America to play football; Schmo is able to grow further in his football career.
After a thorough search for the right program, North Cross was the perfect fit. “It sounded like a good school and Coach A is a legend at recruiting,” Schmo said. “[My parents] supported me in every given and thinkable aspect there is, school, football and normal life.”
After a hard goodbye, he and some of his new teammates were ready for their new American life. “Hannes, Luca and I coordinated it so we would be on the same flight together,” Schmo said.
Despite the looks of him, being 6’4 and 220 pounds, Schmo only has less than four years of football experience.
“I started playing flag football first,” Schmo said. “My team had tackle too, but the games were only played with nine people, so you can’t really consider it tackle football.”
Being a natural born athlete, only playing for less than four years isn’t even a factor for talent anymore.
“He’s a really good football player,” Kam Johnson ‘24 said. “He’s really athletic, tall, lengthy and he moves well for his size.”
Competitive high school football is an extreme change from flag football. “It’s like everything times 10,” Schmo said.
After a month of training in the U.S. to prepare for the season, Schmo was eager to get out on the field for the first time.
“I actually came here to play offense as a receiver,” Schmo said, “but ended up playing linebacker on defense.”
Even with a change in position, Schmo still had the talent to be a starter in his first year of high school football.
With a change from flag football to real high school football, the high school life and academics were also a big change. Coming from a country where high school football doesn’t exist, it was a pleasant surprise to him to have practices right after school and on campus. Another big change is the academics.
“The school system is different. In Germany it’s harder,” Schmo said. “Here on tests and quizzes, you have a lot of multiple-choice questions, but in Germany, we only have short answer questions. So you have to know something, you can’t just guess. You have to learn in detail.”
In Germany, it is very common for students to learn English at a very young age. For Schmo, he has been picking it up since the third grade.
“I mostly taught it myself, like through Vines or Youtube videos,” Schmo said. However, English is a lot harder when surrounded by people who speak it everyday. “It was easier to speak in Germany,” Schmo said. “When I first got here it was hard to speak, but now it’s normal for me.”
Schmo, along with many other international athletes here, decided to reclass. “You can reclass in Germany, but it’s more of an American thing for sports,” Schmo said. “In Germany, when you reclass it’s usually for poor academics, but here it’s so normal and everyone knows it’s for athletics.”
To have an extra year of improvements, college recruitments, and possible state championships, he is excited to be a part of the sophomore class. “[I’m excited] for one more year of high school,” Schmo said, “but mostly to have another year to play football.””
Other than the fact that he is towering over almost everyone in the school, Schmo has the biggest smile ever to make him stand out from the rest.
“I’m just always smiling,” Schmo said. “I like it. I got my smile from my dad.”
People compliment his smile.
“He’s a nice guy, he’s always smiling,’’ Wenk said. “I’ve never seen him not smile.”
Johnson ‘24 said, “Everytime you see him he has a smile on his face.”
Even varsity football coach, football coach Stephen Alexander said, “I respect that even when he’s frustrated or things are going his way, you can always get a big smile at him and his attitude remains positive.”
His positivity from his infectious smile affects everyone on the field.
“Schmo has a great personality on and off the field,”Alexander said. “He is a gregarious guy and fits in with most social groups which makes him a great teammate off the field.”
His energy radiates to his teammates as well.
“He’s always in a good mood,” said Johnson. He’s just a fun person to be around” .
“Schmo is just the dude that brings great energy every time we step on the field. It doesn’t matter if it’s just practice if it’s raining or if it’s a game,” Iver Haughbotn ‘23 said. “He’s always serious about his work, but he’s also a great teammate to be around, cause he brings a lot of energy to the field.”
One of his closest teammates from Austria, Moritz “Lil Mo” Mittendorfer ‘24, said “[Playing with him is] really fun because sometimes he makes some weird mistakes and our coach yells at him and he goes “SCHMOOOO” which is really funny.”
Adapting to American culture wasn’t the whole thing he had to adapt to, being called “Schmo” was a big change too. Started by Coach Alexander to not mix up him and Lil’ Mo,the name “Schmo” was born. “[Lil’ Mo] was the first one here in America, so he got the name Moritz,” Schmo said. Back home he was just referred to as Moritz, but from his and Lil Mo’s size difference he said
“In the beginning, I was Big Mo or Big Schmo, but in the end, it was just Schmo, because of my last name.”
His life in the dorms is home away from home.
“I have met a lot of new friends with different backgrounds and ethnicities,” Schmo said. He is roommates with a fellow German, Hannes Hammer ‘23. “Life with Hannes is pretty quiet, we respect each other. During study hall we talk about football sometimes and he gives me recruiting tips,” Schmo said.
However, his first friend here was Lil’ Mo.
“We’ve gotten pretty close since then since we are the only sophomores that speak German,” Lil Mo said. His room is right down the hall from Iver and Lil’ Mo and spends a lot of time there.
“I really like life at the dorms because you have your closest friends right down the hall,” Schmo said.
So far, Schmo’s experience here has been very good. With a lot of adjustments to life, school, and sports; he is making it by very well. He plans to spend the rest of his high school years here to pursue his football career. Even without his real family in the same house as him, his dorm friends and other friends here have become that for him.
by Henry Schumm ' 25 and Ryan Thomas '25
Israeli football recruits Omri Niv and Boaz Atia come to the USA to play football in high school.
Boaz and Omri knew each other in Israel, but they were not very close friends. They became better friends when they found out that they were coming to North Cross together. In Israel, they went to separate schools and lived about 30 minutes away.
“There are no school sports teams; if you want to play a sport, you have to join a private club,” Boaz said.
Omri and Boaz were on the same club team. In Israel, football is not a very popular sport, and there isn’t much competition. In all of Israel, there may be fewer than 18 football teams. They decided to play football in the USA because they wanted to get better and potentially take their football careers much further.
In Israel, their coach helped them come to the USA by the organization Podyum Preps, which take European student-athletes and helps them apply them to different boarding schools all over the USA.
Both of the boys have a goal to make D1 for college football. If not, they will return to Israel and join the military.
The boys have been playing football for most of their life. Before a couple of years ago, they had no option to play on a team. They have been working very hard on the field and in the gym to prepare for the football season. The Raiders made it to the finals and had a very successful season. As winter approaches they continue to train indoors, to stay fit for the next season.
Omri and Boaz were the only two freshman on the football team this year.
“They were very independent and alone is the sense of them being the only ones [as freshmen]” said Coach Alexander. “Boaz has a big, unmistakable smile and Omri is a very curious kid who asks too many questions.”
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