HomeThe Atlantic-HubAtlantic-Hub SportsBulldogs shoot for fifth straight state football playoff title

Bulldogs shoot for fifth straight state football playoff title

The names may have changed, but the attitude and focus remains the same for the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School football team that will zero in on another state sectional playoff championship this season.

Jerry Schulte, who starts his second season as head coach at the school, will rely on what has worked the past four years, which has led to winning New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central Jersey playoff titles.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Schulte said. “Nothing changes. When you have a recipe that continues to succeed, why change?”

Schulte believes his team is prepared to go after a fifth straight championship. Rumson-Fair Haven won the Central Jersey, Group 3 title the past two years and had captured the Central Jersey, Group 2 championship in 2013 and 2014.

“Our depth is our biggest asset — that, and the offseason work they put in,” said Schulte, whose team ended 9-3 last season. “Everyone came into camp in great shape. Our trainer did a great job working with these guys. Everyone came in ready to go to work.”

The depth must prevail since the Bulldogs have graduated many key players from the past championship teams, including quarterback Mike O’Connor, who started for three seasons.

“Our inexperience will be somewhat of a problem,” Schulte said. “We graduate players just like everyone else. It’s not an excuse. We’re still looking to fill positions. We need a new quarterback, and our whole secondary graduated. An offensive lineman position is open as well.”

Despite the turnover, Schulte and his players will keep moving toward winning another sectional championship.

“The bar has been set pretty high here in the past decade,” Schulte said. “It’s our job to keep it going.”

One of the crucial players will be senior quarterback Dan Harby.

Offensive coordinator John Corneliusen believes that Harby has what it takes to steer the squad to a successful autumn.

“It’s always a challenge to replace a three-year starter,” Corneliusen said. “It’s even harder to replace a three-time champion. I think [Harby is] more than ready. He’s been in the system for a couple of years now. He also was on the scout team running plays against our defense, so he knows what he’s doing.”

Corneliusen predicted that Harby should be able to control the attack.

“His path to greatness is simple: just come up and execute,” Corneliusen said. “[He will] look to get better every day. If he does that, he’ll be fine.”

Harby is confident he can get the job done.

“We’ve won four in a row,” Harby said. “I want to win out, but I also know I need to take it one game at a time.”

Harby felt that he learned while he watched over the past few seasons.

“I played under Mike O’Connor,” Harby said. “He was a great player. We also have great coaches, so I learned a lot.”

Harby said that his strengths differ from O’Connor’s.

“He was a great athlete,” Harby said. “He was more of a runner. I’m more of a pocket passer. I just want to stay on his level and keep it going. I’m trying to improve my running because that’s the offense we run. I think with our coaches, it’s definitely possible.”

The Bulldogs open their season on Sept. 8 at Raritan High School in Hazlet at 7 p.m.

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