- Are You Ready For Some Charger FOOTBALL!!!!!
In the last two seasons, the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division crown came down to Week 9 games between Spotswood and Metuchen. Spotswood emerged with titles in 2014 and 2015 after winning two intense, down-to-the-whistle tussles with crazy plays.
The teams again meet Nov. 5, a week before the playoffs begin. However, the league appears more balanced in 2016. Bishop Ahr enters from the White Division, as Dunellen, Highland Park, Middlesex and South River return veterans.
Here is a look at the GMC Blue Division by alphabetical order:
Bishop Ahr: Experience and depth.
Those aren’t bad things to enter the season with. Bishop Ahr returns 16 starters from a 4-6 team that were a few plays away from a winning record.
“We have a big group of guys that we’re comfortable putting in any situation on the field,” said third-year coach Joe Vigilante. “So that’s really going to help us going forward.”
Running back — and wrestling star — Andrew Brazicki returns after rushing for 1,054 yards with nine touchdowns in 2105. Vigilante has confidence in fellow tailbacks Christian Cardona and Reminiss Funderburk, who will give breaks to Brazicki, also a top linebacker.
Junior Ryan O'Leary steps in at quarterback for Tommy Galante (now at Farleigh Dicknson). He’ll throw to four experienced receivers in Guiseppe Capasso, Pat Doherty, Jonathan Edwards and Ben Prott. Defensively. Marcus Adeniyi returns as the team’s sack leader for the past two seasons.
“What I really like is that there is respect,” Vigilante said. “They get along. When we do team functions, if it’s over at 12 o’clock, they’re still hanging around after one o’clock because they just like being in each other’s presence.”
Dunellen: Dave DeNapoli has built Dunellen into a small-school power. Before 2015, the Destroyers went 43-14, including reaching the 2015 North 2 Group I title game.
But as one of the smallest football-playing schools in the state, Dunellen hit a low cycle in 2015 as inexperienced players got a taste of varsity action in a winless season. Now, 11 starters return, including two exciting skilled position players. Both quarterback Jibril Hagood-Henry and running back Jason Watung are capable of busting for long runs in Dunellen’s double wing system.
In the offense, players line up tight like an accordion, which keeps defenses guessing. They’ll run behind an experienced line of Alain Diaz, Chris Rouland, Alex Dornbierer, Johnny Cingerana and Freddy Cingerana.
Highland Park: Call them The Core Three.
A trio of offensive weapons should make Highland Park exciting to watch. Running backs Nasir Boykins and Dylan Boynton combined for nearly 1,500 rushing yards, while quarterback Ryan O’Shea completed 61 percent of his 168 passes for 1,407 yards and 17 touchdowns. All three seniors are three-year starters.
“We have the ability to score, but the name of the game is stopping people,” Highland Park coach Rich McGlynn said. “I don’t want to try to get into a shootout. We have to play defense and if we can do that, then we have a chance.”
Both Boykins and Boynton should shore up the Owls' defense, along with junior linebacker Yuriy Prots, who had nearly 100 tackles. As a bonus, Sam Murphy (TE/DT) and Justin Sims (WR/DB) are both back from leg injuries.
“There’s a lot of kids with three-year experience as varsity football players,” said McGlynn, who has 32 players on the roster. “So if we can be healthy, I think we can be a very competitive football team.”
Metuchen: While Metuchen enters the season with unproven talent, the Bulldogs at least flex an anchor that’s one of the best in the GMC. Senior tight end/defensive end Devin Miller is a 6-foot-4, 227-pound NCAA Division I recruit who will rarely leave the field.
“He’s a complete athlete,” Metuchen coach Bob Ulmer said. “He can block, he can catch. He runs well. Plus on the defensive side of the ball, he’s very physical and quick off the ball. He has something that the other players don’t have — he pursues extremely well. And he’ll catch people on the backside. Tremendous athlete.”
Not a bad starting point for a team that loses most of its skilled firepower and big guys up front. Metuchen, which graduated 14 seniors, must fill in its offensive line and replace stud running back Trevor Firgau (1,018 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and quarterback Jake Lebovits (796 passing yards, eight touchdowns).
At quarterback, expect either junior Chris Ahumada or sophomore Will Hronich to take over for Lebovits. In the backfield, senior power runner Willie Rojas, who saw time last season, and senior slasher Avery Clark will give opponents different looks. Senior Justin Briggs is at fullback and linebacker, as Ulmer expects to give teams formations from its multiple I set.
Other experienced players include senior Cam McPartlan (OT/DT) and junior Danny Russell (WR/FS).
“Listen, the new kids coming in will hopefully play hard,” said Ulmer, who has about 30 players this season. “They’ll be fine. We’re just going to have to coach them up and get them ready to play ball. I’m expecting a lot from these kids to step up and replace the kids who have graduated. We always have a goal to play into December, hopefully. It all starts in camp time.”
Middlesex: You want a good sign as the opener gets closer?
“With all that heat a couple weeks ago, the kids haven’t complained once,” said Middlesex coach P.J. Jankowicz. “They just show up and have fun and we work pretty hard. … It was shocking, because it was ridiculously hot, but they just sort of buckled up their chin straps and got to work.”
Jankowicz hopes that focus will help the Blue Jays, which have 18 juniors. Senior quarterback Mike Cresitello saw action as a backup during the last two seasons, and knows the nuances of the option.
While running back Ryan Coke (1,069 rushing yards, 15 TDs) graduated, junior halfback James Esposito earned playing time in 2015 and looks poised for a breakout. Juniors Tom Rau and Devin Lanza are in the mix, as are fullbacks John Kressbach and Will Eustace.
“They’re not as explosive as Ryan was, but I think as a whole they’ll be able to get the job done for us,” Jankowicz said. “We got a couple kids who I’m excited about.”
On defense, watch senior linebackers Naeem Morgan, who had perfect attendance in offseason workouts, Tom Schweyer and John Kressbach, as well as lineman Matt Semon.
“Our theme for the year is every rep counts and just getting in that mindset,” Jankowicz said. “We have some talented players, but the margin for success is so thin that we have to make sure we do everything in our power to give ourselves the best chance for success."
South River: South River’s storied program will soon need to re-write its record books. Rich Marchesi has 191 career wins, and needs three more to go ahead of Bill Denny, who coached at South River from 1927 to 1961.
Marchesi, in his 30th season, knows the legacy of the program. He said, “Yeah, when you put that jersey on, man, that means something around here.”
But he wanted to talk more about this year’s Rams than years past. Last season, a young South River team won its last three games as it settled into the spread offense. Marchesi, who’s known for his keep-you-guessing-play calling, is charged up for the 2016 season.
“I know I’ve had fun so far in the past three weeks,” he said. “I’ve kind of come up with some pretty good concoctions this year so far, so I’m looking forward to it. Just trying to put my kids in a good position.”
One of those young guns is sophomore quarterback Michael DeSantis, who mostly played receiver last year. The dual threat QB will find good hands in receivers Mark Pacheco and Terry Outlaw, Travis Thomas, as well as tight end Kyle Baszak. Watch sophomore nose guard Kenny Cross (6-2, 320).
“We’ve had two years in a row that we’re sub-.500 and that hasn’t happened here probably since the early ‘70s,” he said. “So we have some goals. We need to get back and be physical and play South River football and maybe be thought of as one of htose pyhscial South River teams. And that’s what we’re working on.”
Spotswood: When Andy Cammarano teaches “The Great Gatsby” or “Catcher in the Rye” as an English teacher at Spotswood, he knows that students have to master one chapter before moving on to the next.
He’s brought that mentality to the gridiron this offseason. The Chargers return five starters, meaning there was plenty of stopping and starting in the early going.
“We came into camp, particularly this summer, just saying, ‘Look, we’re going to go slow,’” Cammarano said. “We’re not going to overload our playbook. We’re not going to give them too many formations. We’re just going to get them to where they could line up and be confident. And then we’ll add on as they demonstrate that they could do it. It really was a test of our teaching. … We had a heck of a training camp just getting guys ready.”
The Chargers have a small-school program going with 20 wins in three seasons and two Blue Division titles. But the Chargers must replace quarterback Shawn O’Connor (1,299 passing yards). Enter senior Nick Mohr, who was all-division at strong safety. Cammarano said that Mohr took every snap in practice last season as the Chargers uses two huddles. Also returning are running back Jack Keenan and wingback Nick Vincelli.
Versatile Ryan Szatkowski (receiver/cornerback/kicker) returns, as does all-division Sal Mistretta (OG/LB). His name is probably familiar to area football fans. His father, Sal Mistretta was a longtime high school coach, including stops at Metuchen, North Brunswick and Sayreville.
“So there’s definitely leadership there,” Cammarano said. “And the guys who are experienced have been through the wars. I’m just hoping they can kind of lead the way.”
Coach: Andy Cammarano, 10th season (43-47)
Staff: Dan Krainski, Dan White, James Mahoney, Mike Mahoney, Nick Cammarano Sr., Nick Cammarano Jr., Corey Brown, Rich Vivian
2015 record: 7-3
Classification: Central Group II
Offensive Formation: Shotgun Wing T
Defensive Formation: 4-2-5
Returning Starters: Jack Keenan (RB/LB), Sal Mistretta (OG/LB), Nick Mohr (QB/SS), Ryan Szatkowski (WR/DB/K/P), Nick Vincelli (FB/WS)
Top Newcomers: Austin Taylor (OT/DT), Paul Toth (TE/DE), Chris Robel (OT/DT), Aidan Vroom (RB/LB), Shea Obado (RB/FS), Chance Fee (WR/DB), Jesse Sowell (OT/DT), Mike Izzo (OT/DE), Yousef Elhalaka (OT/DT), Michael Leroy (C/DE)
SOUTH RIVER — Ninety-degree days are meant more for the poolside than running with heavy equipment on a football field.
“Terrible,” said Spotswood High School quarterback Nick Mohr of the warmth. “I hate playing in heat like this. Your hands are sweating. It’s so hot in the helmet. But we have to play it no matter what. No matter the conditions, our number one job is to get the win.”
So Mohr and his deep Chargers team did what they had to Saturday and methodically beat South River 31-6 in the season opener for both schools. Spotswood had question marks with five starters returning after repeating as the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division champs in 2015.
They were answered early as Spotswood scored less than three minutes into the game and led 24-6 at halftime. One of the questions was Mohr, who started at strong safety last season but was the backup quarterback. Saturday, the senior looked just fine as he finished 8-for-10 for 176 yards, rushed for a 2-yard score and threw two touchdown passes. He connected with a wide-open Ryan Szatkowski for a 59-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left in the first quarter, and threw a 50-yard scoring pass to fullback Nick Vincelli on a screen. Vincelli deftly avoided a tackle as he sprinted down the left sideline to give Spotswood a 21-6 lead with 6:12 left in the first half.
“We’re real inexperienced, so we were worried about it coming in,” Spotswood coach Andy Cammarano said. “We know South River’s a tough team and they expect to win. We knew we had to come out and play hard because those guys come out and play hard, too. Turnovers made the difference in the first half. We were able to capitalize. I’m really happy we were able to put it away running the ball at the end. … When you look at it, we were very balanced.”
Spotswood scored two touchdowns following turnovers. The first came when safety Eddie Rogers fell on a fumble on the second play of the game at the Rams’ 4-yard line. Two plays later, Jack Keenan punched it in for the 3-yard touchdown. Later in the quarter, Chance Fee recovered a fumble on a botched lateral. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, Ray Baureko added an interception for Spotswood. Up front, defenders Yousef Elhalaka, Michael Leroy, Jesse Sowell and Paul Toth kept the pressure on for the Chargers.
The young South River team showed potential, moving the ball at times both in the air and on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Michael DeSantis, wearing number 33, showed he’s an emerging dual-threat force. He scored the Rams touchdown on a 1-yard run with 8:25 left in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 43-yard scamper by sophomore Billy Drum, who got stopped on the 1-yard line. In the first quarter, DeSantis connected with a diving Travis Thomas for a 35-yard gain.
Of course, both teams dealt with the heat and there was plenty of cramping up. Mohr said he felt fine and simply drank a lot of water and wiped his hands with a towel. Plus, Spotswood is used to practicing in steamy heat with no shade during its July and August workouts.
“We practice every day in the summer,” he said. “We run miles. We lift. Every day in the summer, 8-12 we’re out there in the heat. Cam does a great job of getting us ready. All the conditioning and the lifting we do gets us really prepared for games like today.”
Regardless, if given a choice, Mohr much prefers that perfect 70-degree day than Saturday’s conditions.
“It’s too hot,” he said. “It’s summer still.”
SPOTSWOOD (1-0) 14-10-0-7-31
SOUTH RIVER (0-1) 0-6-0-0-6
SW – Keenan 3 run (Szatkowski kick)
SW – Szatkowski 59 pass from Mohr (Szatkowski kick)
SR – DeSantis 1 run (kick failed)
SW – Vincelli 50 pass from Mohr (Szatkowski kick)
SW – Szatkowski 26 FG
SW – Mohr 2 run (Conahan kick)
Rushing - SW: Vincelli 12-50, Esser 11-41, Keenan 8-33, Mohr 2-14, Obado 1-2; SR: Drum 7-59, DeSantis 10-50, Santos 6-14.
Passing - SW: Mohr 8-10-0-176, Szatkowski 0-1-0-0; SR: DeSantis 7-14-1-70.
Receiving - SW: Szatkowski 3-73, Vincelli 2-55, Toth 1-20, Janeczek 1-14, Fee 1-14; SR: Thomas 4-44, Kowalski 1-14, Baszak 1-7, Murdzek 1-5.
Welcome to the 2016 Season
Welcome to the Touchdown club for the 2014 Season. This club is made up of the parents of the players who are on the Spotswood High School JV and Varsity Football Teams.
We provide for the team the following: Gatorade and water for the team at every game, sandwiches and snacks for away games, pasta dinners for every home game, game day programs, senior day breakfast.
We also coordinate the end of the year banquet which includes football jerseys and pictures for each graduating senior. We also sponsor our players who are selected for the end of year Snapple Bowl game.
In addition, we try to purchase items that are needed by the team and are not supplied by the school. An organization is only as good as it members. I would encourage anyone that would like to be involved to please join us! We are still looking for additional board members. We are looking for new ideas and new ways making this club even better! If you are interested please speak with
Communication - Join our email group
We held our first official meeting in August and have realized we probably don’t have a complete list of email addresses for everyone. During the season we communicate a lot via email. Please complete the below and send back with your son or you can email the below information to Kim Szatkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Player’s Name: ________________________________________________________________
Players Year: (Fresh, Soph, Junior, Senior)___________________________________________
Parent’s Names :_________________________________________________________________
Email Address: _________________________________________________________________
We will ask that each family works the snack shack for at least one home game. This year we have four home games. There is no buyout option for snack shack duty. Please help by showing up and working when you are scheduled! We will send out the list prior to the first home game.
Team Pasta Dinners
New this year we are attempting to organize a Team Pasta dinner for every home game. The dinners take place the evening before the game at the high school café. It’s a great team event and the boys really enjoy it and look forward to it. Last year we asked parents to donate trays of pasta, salad, bread and drinks. This year we would like to try to get donations from local business instead of asking parents for more help. We already have one local restaurant willing to donate the first dinner. We need 4 more. Please let Angela Fee know if you have any businesses willing to donate to us.
Snow Bowl 2011
Being A Champion -
The challenge of being a champion is not as monumental as many believe. Rather, it is doing all the little things with excellence all the time. Not cutting corners, but doing your best at all times. With this in mind, we believe in loyalty, work ethic and a dedication to the program and teammates that can never be compromised.
-to bind, as a promise; pledge or obligation
The backbone and driving force of achievement is commitment. Doing well in school requires commitment. So does athletic prowess. Simply put, success requires commitment.
"Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a society work, a civilization work."
- Vince Lombardi
Winners Make A Choice -
To get something out of all situations, rather than complain about them
To hustle, rather than dog it
To be prepared, rather than just show up
To be consistent, rather than occasional
To be early, rather than late or just on time
To want to learn, rather than explain or excuse
To do more, rather than just enough
To be mentally tough, rather than mentally lazy or intimidated
To concentrate on what to do, rather than what may result
To be agressive, rather than passive or submissive
To think of a solution, rather than worry about problems
To accept adversity as part of the game and of life
To share with and help others, rather than be selfish
To think and act positively, rather than negatively
To believe in yourself and your teammates