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Defending state champion Raiders prepare for encore in 2022 campaign

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HILLSBOROUGH – The 2021 Hillsborough High School Football season was one for the history books.

Record setting performances last season led to the Raiders going 13-0 for the first time in school history and winning the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group V Regional Championship.

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Despite losing a talented group of 19 players to graduation from last year’s squad, which included Thomas Amankwaa, Will Dixon and James Mazuera, Coach Kevin Carty still believes his Raiders have a solid group of football players to make 2022 another great season in the Hillsborough record books.

“A lot of the guys that we have right now were really important players on the (2021) team,” Carty said. “They can draw on some of the same things we did last year and do them the same way.”

Senior guard Christian Quandt is a key returner for the Raiders in the trenches. Quandt was a part of a Hillsborough starting offensive line last season that helped pave the way to the Raiders compiling 5,343 yards of total offense and scoring 64 total touchdowns.

“It feels great coming back (after winning a state championship) and bringing that momentum into this year,” said Quandt. “I’m hoping to better myself (this year) and hopefully some opportunities will arise from that.”

Quandt will be a two-way starter for the Raiders this fall as a starting interior defensive lineman on the Hillsborough defense.

Another new role for Quandt will be on the leadership side of things as he’s hoping to instill the same “mentality” that last year’s seniors provided to the younger guys on the team.

“I want to continue the culture we built last year and bring it down through the younger levels to hopefully help us win this year,” he said.

Seniors Kevin Shelton (wide receiver), Jack O’Donnell (wide receiver) and Shane Donoghue (tight end) are a trio of skill players with varsity experience back on offense for Hillsborough.

The Hillsborough backfield will see senior Dom Monsorno, junior Shayne Powell and sophomore Jackson Jankowicz play a big part in the offense at the tailback position.

At the quarterback position, senior Ryan Tasetano is expected to take over the starting duties under center for the Raiders. Junior Tyler Van Cleef will also factor into the Hillsborough starting quarterback role, Carty said.

Hillsborough’s biggest strength entering the 2022 campaign is its defense. The Raiders have a host of players back from last year’s defensive unit that held opponents to under an average of 11 points per game.

Headlining the Hillsborough defense is its linebacking corps led by Powell, junior Jonathan Lobelo, and seniors William Meszaros and Joe Witcoski.

“The linebackers are really the strength of our team,” Carty said. “Their physicality has shown (during training camp) and that’s going to set the tone for us this year.”

In the special teams department, senior kicker Sam Meechan returns after going a perfect 45-of-45 in extra point attempts last fall for Hillsborough.

All the success and glory from last year’s historic run to being state champions has been more of “a motivation tool” than anything else for his 2022 squad, Carty said.

He’s seen that all offseason and during training camp with the amount of effort and hard work his team has put in to stamp their own mark in the Hillsborough record books.

“It’s been a great offseason. I feel like it’s been a really good atmosphere and everyone is positive and confident that we can do well,” Carty said.

Hillsborough will open up the 2022 season at home on Sept. 1 against East Brunswick High School.

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