Derek Sininsky, the football coach at Saint John Vianney High School, compares the goal of his program to what every NFL team strives for each season.
“Our expectations are the same every year,” Sininsky said. “Just like every good NFL team, what do they want to do? They want to win the Super Bowl every year. Same goes here.”
Saint John Vianney fell short of winning its version of the Super Bowl when the Lancers were defeated by Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, 45-20, in the semifinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Non-Public, Group 3 playoffs.
Saint Joseph went on to win the Non-Public, Group 3 title with a 26-17 victory over DePaul Catholic High School. The Bergen County power finished No. 1 in the state rankings.
Meanwhile, Saint John Vianney ended the year with a 10-1 record with a slew of players who return this season.
“Last year, we had a really young team,” Sininsky said. “We have a lot of guys coming back all over our defense. Our defense should be really good. We expect our defense to pitch a shutout every week and to dominate. We want to pitch shutouts and cause turnovers. We have a few guys coming back on offense as well. They have high expectations too. Every time we get the ball, I expect our offense to score. As a team, we want to dominate every game and get to that championship.”
Sininsky believes his squad has playmakers all over the field — so much so that he’s had to tweak his system to accommodate all of them.
“We have a lot of guys who can make plays for us,” Sininsky said. “I’ve had to adjust some of the things that we’re doing to make sure everyone gets the ball. If I have so many guys who make plays, does it make sense to have a running back carrying the ball 25 times a game? No. I’d rather have all four running backs touching the ball 10 to 15 times a game. Same with some of the receivers we have. We’ve got to get them the ball so they can make plays.”
The Lancers possess quality, but they may be light on quantity.
“The only thing that worries me is our depth,” Sininsky said. “We have 46 kids on our team. Those teams up north have like 75-80 kids on their team. We don’t have luxury. So our lack of depth can be a problem, but if we dominate the way I know we can, we should be fine.”
Some of the crucial seniors for the Lancers are quarterback Haaziq Daniels, slot back and cornerback Zyaire Sterling, running back and middle linebacker Johnny Buchanan, wide receiver and cornerback Samuel East, defensive end and outside linebacker Nick Densieski, and outside linebacker and fullback Josiah Walker.
“It’s hard to single guys out because we have so many,” Sininsky said. “It starts off, because of the position, it starts off with the quarterback. We expect Haaziq to have an outstanding year. We have very, very high standards for him. He has to develop to where he can be a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard passer. That’s hard to do. That’s an unbelievable season.
“Buchanan, we expect him to dominate. On both sides of the ball for him. We have two great playmakers playing the slot receivers, Sterling and East. They’re going to touch the ball 10-15 times a game. They also play defensive back for us.
“Our offensive line, we feel, has been the best we’ve had since we’ve been here. We feel as if we’re bigger than we’ve ever been, and we’re sound. We expect Densieski to have a great year at defensive end. He led the Shore in sacks (15) last year, and we expect even more this year. We have so many guys that we expect to be great. As you can see, that’s why we changed the offense because of the guys right there.”
Saint John Vianney will begin its quest to win a state playoff championship when the Lancers start their season on Sept. 8 at Matawan Regional High School at 7 p.m.