The Chiefs are a tough, hard working squad with a coach that insists on dedication in the weight room, on the field, and during OTA’s. Back that up with consistent offensive and defensive philosophies, taught by a group of coaches that have worked together for years, and payoffs will continue to show up on the field. The Hopatcong team not only benefits from consistent expectations and coaching, they also rely on a community structure with deep footings from local businesses, the school administration, parents, families, and alum. Tailgating is an event that’s fine-tuned preseason, during scrimmages. The band and cheerleaders work together. In this town, everyone’s rowing the same boat. But head coach Jerry Venturino tells his players: in order to maintain all that support, the team needs to win.
When asked about next year’s lineup, Venturino explains, “we like to graduate a big class because we want as many seniors on the field as possible.” RB/DB Shea Bongiovanni rushed for 355 yards with last year’s seniors and this year he’ll be key in replacing RB’s Johann Lara and Tommy Rieg.
Other Key Contributors
QB Vincent Giordano
OL/DL Tristan Caplan
TE/DB Zack Smith
FB/LB Jack Dorman, junior
TE/OLB John Yanko
TE/DE James Cranmer
Both Sides of the Ball
Offense will also include RB Andrew Nee and split end Tobi Olugbenga. Giansebastian Ariza and Mike Maddaluna will form the OL/DL wall. On defense, watch for Carmen LoPorto and Robert Juliano in the secondary. Linebackers will battle it out at team camp.
Thoughts on 2013
The 2013 Hopatcong squad had close losses to a strong Butler team and eventual state champs Mountain Lakes. The Butler spread offense raked Hopatcong’s defense across the field, creating openings for QB sneaks and inside runs. Hopatcong will still face the tough Ryan Cirillo, but Butler graduates star QB Glenn Reger. Also, despite the win over Boonton, the Hopatcong offensive line struggled against Boonton’s bigger defensive line. The Chiefs’ run game wasn’t as effective as it could have been, keeping the spread to fourteen points. All that hard work in the weight room could make a difference this year. This team has made it to playoffs the last three years, they want to make it a record-setting 4th year in a row.
Games to Watch
Hopatcong has a long-standing rivalry with Lenape Valley that’ll play out in week three (9/26, 7pm at Hopatcong). And, week one, they’re home, against Mo. Catholic (9/12, 7PM, at Hopatcong). I’m circling both dates on my calendar, and hope to get one of those tailgate burgers I’ve been hearing about.
“When you’re winning, act like you’ve been there before,” says Venturino, paraphrasing the great Vince Lombardi. Humility and hard work are virtues this hometown football hero-turned-head coach instills in his players. Nice to know coaches use the field to teach more than X’s and O’s. There’s no better place than high school football.