GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Green Bay Packer fans in northeast Wisconsin get a pass for actively rooting for a different team this Sunday.

That’s because former Green Bay Southwest high school graduate Max Scharping is an offensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals. His team will play the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend in the AFC Championship game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

In Green Bay, there are many people eager to brag about Scharping.

“His drive, his passion, he comes from a great family, he always cared about others,” said Scharping’s football coach at Green Bay Southwest Patrick Wallace.

Wallace said he remembers that Scharping was always big and strong for his age. But he was also very athletic and he used to play him at tight end and have him catch passes.

He recalled a game at Pulaski where an offensive coordinator called a passing play when Green Bay Southwest was having a lot of success running the ball. Wallace said that Scharping came up to the coaches and said they need to continue to run the ball because they can’t stop us. The coaching staff listened to the advice and it worked.

Wallace said that Scharping grew as a leader each year that he was with the program. He said Scharping was a very intelligent player and that combined with his work ethic allowed him to rise to the level he is at today.

Scharping attended Northern Illinois University and the Houston Texans drafted him 55th overall in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft. After three years in Houston, the Texans chose to waive him last summer and the Bengals picked him up.

“All the hard work can pay off for you, if you do it the right way,” said Wallace.

During his high school and his college days, Scharping spent a lot of time training at Synergy Sports Performance in Hobart. The place was so important to Scharping that he gifted trainers there a signed jersey from when he was with the Houston Texans and also held his NFL Draft night party at Synergy Sports Performance.

His trainer Scotty Smith said Scharping had a standout work ethic.

“There’s a sense of a hometown pride, but also to be a little bit of a part of it and see the process they took to get there that’s what really is kind of exciting,” said Smith.

Over at Southwest High School, Scharping’s teachers also have plenty of great things to say about him.

His physical education teacher Brenda Johnson said that after showing some of her current students the weight rack Scharping used to lift, the students renamed it the “rack of greatness.”

Johnson said that when he was an upperclassman he would help the younger kids learn the proper techniques for all the lifts.

But according to his teachers, Scharping wasn’t only impressive on the football field. He was a great student who worked really hard in class and always was willing to ask questions if he didn’t understand something.

They also say he had a great personality.

“He always had a joke to share or something funny to talk about, but he also knew how to turn it on and work really hard,” said Jason Krings who said he had Scharping for advanced placement US history.

“He used to come into study hall every once in a while with the quote end quote lunchroom gang and I remember a lot of conversations about the muffin man and singing the muffin man song from Shrek,” continued Krings.

The people Local Five News spoke to said that it’s weird rooting for the Bengals, but that they’re glad he doesn’t play for the Minnesota Vikings or the Chicago Bears because rooting for those teams would have been a lot tougher.