By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Filling holes with newcomers will be the name of the game for the football teams in the Packet area.
Gone are many familiar names that helped lead the local programs to success. In their place will be some talented newcomers who now have their opportunity to shine.
At WW-P North, Jeff Reilly returns a number of key players from a team that finished 5-5 a year ago and qualified for the state playoffs. The Knights lost some of their firepower on offense, bit still return enough weapons to be able to put plenty of points on the board.
“This upcoming season we are really excited to see what our guys can do on all sides of the ball,” said Reilly, whose team will open the season tonight at Allentown. “We have some play makers in John Owens, Miles Fye-Moore and Tyrell Williams that can create big create plays on all sides of the ball.
“Our offensive line had a couple of key guys graduate, but we are very impressed with the leadership and performance of Jeremy Lockwood so far this preseason. Brian Murphy is going to be our starting quarterback. He as well has shown a of promise in the early part of our season and really look forward to how he grows as a starting varsity quarterback.”
Owens caught 42 passes for 730 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago and will be Murphy’s prime target. Fye-Moore had 14 receptions a year ago.
On defense, the Knights return enough key parts to have a unit that should be able to hold down the opposition.
“We have some very solid defensive players in Eric Austin, Isaiah Miranda, Matt Phelan and Chris Aguirre-Alvarez,” Reilly said. “They have learned our new defensive scheme as well as really prospered in our pre-season scrimmages. A big key for us and any football team is staying healthy and continuing to improve as the season goes on.”
Montgomery will be led by a strong senior class as it looks to improve on last year’s 5-5 season. The Cougars, who will open tonight at Ridge, return seven starters on offense, including running back Messiah Divine, receiver Mike Patrizio, tight end Danny Young and linemen Matt Heidt, Dylan D’Amore, Eric Lisanti and Ryan Cocuzzo.
On defense, Jared Reinson returns on the line, Grant Papa is back at linebacker, and the secondary returns Malachi Clemons, Zach Masessa and Kyle Kuminski.
Newcomers who will play a key role on offense include receivers Ryan Cashman and Jake Schiavo, quarterback Brian Thompson, and center Chandler Turner. On defense, the Cougars look for contributions from newcomers Austin Kelley, Sean Kennedy, Dante Musto, Will Keller, Matt Wierzbicki, Kevin McLester, Reese Hilton-Clarke, Aubrie Barnes and Damian Bland.
Princeton went 4-6 last year after qualifying for the playoffs a year earlier. The Little Tigers lost several multi-year starters and will be relying on a variety of newcomers this year.
“We have a solid team with a lot of unknowns,” said Princeton coach Charlie Gallagher, whose team will open the season on Saturday at home against Pemberton. “No more familiar names like (David) Beamer, (Rory) Helstrom, and (Noah) Ziegler. New and I’m hoping exciting names for the future like (Jakob) Green, (Finn) Kaiser, (Isaac) Webb, (Aiden) Sarafin, and (Vince) Doran are at our doorstep. I think we are getting good production out of some key like veterans (Ethan) Guerra, (Matt) Hawes and (Alex) Solopenkov.
“We are hoping new guys emerge. We are missing a key component of our defense this year. Kyle Angelucci who really called all the shots last year on defense went down in the summer session with a torn ACL. He’s a guy not easily replaced. I like our team and I know we will be in a lot of games this year.”
WW-P South was winless a year ago, but head coach Skip Edwards expects the Pirates to be an improved team this season.
The Pirates return seven starters on offense and defense and have more experience on both side of the football. But, being a Group 4 school the team is still low on numbers. Senior captains Lucas Cuitino, Scott Cochrane and Zyion Cooper will be expected to contribute on both sides of the ball, as will junior defensive end/tight end AJ Austin. Senior Brandon Basdeo, as well as juniors Alfredo Cole and Xavier Smith are also back as starters.
“We are going to be a very competitive team,” said Edwards, whose team opens the season tonight at home against Ewing. “We’re looking for our first win in two seasons. We have experience on the offensive line, as well as the skill positions.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor