Talented North Brunswick has high expectations this football season

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Mike Cipot took over as the coach of the North Brunswick Township High School football program in 2017.

He was in command of a program that did not qualify for the state sectional playoffs in six years.

But North Brunswick broke that drought in Cipot’s first season, when the Raiders posted a 6-4 record and landed a berth in the Central Jersey, Group 5 playoffs.

 Cipot’s team lost to Freehold Township High School, 17-13, in the first round of the state playoffs, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the team that had already enjoyed a successful season.

The Raiders won six games in 2017, which was a major step forward since they won a total of four games in the previous three seasons combined.

Fifteen starters are back for 2018, which will begin when North Brunswick opens the season against Saint Joseph Regional High School of Metuchen on Aug. 30 in North Brunswick.

Cipot expects the Raiders to build on last year’s success.

“We were trying to teach kids how to win. We exceeded that,” Cipot said. “The new theme is, ‘Good enough isn’t good enough.’ We can exceed six wins, win (the Greater Middlesex Conference) White Division and make noise in the playoffs. We certainly can with the guys we have back.”

They are a talented group.

Quarterback Christian Petrillo is the ideal point guard for Cipot’s spread offense.

“When it comes to football, I know what I’m doing,” Petrillo said. “I know when to fall, when to shovel pass, when to throw.”

“We can do a lot of different things with him,” Cipot said. “Run a spread. Zone read. Multiple spread. Empty. Trips. Doubles. Three in the backfield. Old school power football.”

North Brunswick runs a lot of sets, but the point of each is the same: Get running back Myles Bailey the ball.

The junior rushed for 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall. He is a Division 1 prospect with offers from Boston College and Syracuse. Other major college coaches are also in contact with Cipot.

“This kid is special,” Cipot said. “He’s the real deal.”

“I hit the hole. I never tip. The hole might just close,” Bailey said. “I can’t do it without my linemen, though.”

Cipot said North Brunswick lost three “very good (offensive) linemen” from 2017. But the two returning starters, Angel Gonzalez and Amaan Maiden, both started 10 games last year.

“Last year was my first year starting,” Gonzalez said. “This year I have to step it up even more.”

North Brunswick’s defense may be more talented than its offense.

Nose guard Tyshaun Parson is the Raiders’ strongest player. He benched a team-high 315 pounds at combine day on Aug. 7. Parson, who stands 5-10 and weighs 300 pounds, should be an inside force who can occupy double teams.

He should also open space for elite end Samod Wingo. The junior, who stands 6-4 and weighs in at 210 pounds, had 15.5 sacks in 2017, the 10th-highest total in New Jersey. Wingo didn’t even start the first two games.

“He’s very quick off the edge,” Cipot said.

Behind those guys, the Raiders have an active linebacker group. Outside backers Sean Breheney and Manny Herrera fly to the ball and make plays. Breheney led North Brunswick with 92 tackles last fall. Inside backer Chris Arnold Jr. is “very fast and physical,” Cipot said.

“Sean is always around the football,” Cipot added. “Herrera is physical but also is very smooth and athletic. He’s definitely a big, physical kid who makes plays.”

In the secondary, Bailey doubles as North Brunswick’s center fielder. And Brandon Outlaw is a shutdown cornerback.

“I can cover ground but I get help from the linebackers, so it makes my job easier,” Bailey said.

“Outlaw can shut down a guy, but he hits too,” Cipot said.

With all this talent, the Raiders have one goal.

“State championship,” Breheney said. “We have to keep working as hard as we do, keep hitting in practice and go out and bring the intensity.”