[is_not_paid] [easy-pricing-table id=”2352″] [/is_not_paid]
The best thing Boonton High School did five years ago was hire Bryan Gallagher. Gallagher has the pedigree (son of local legendary coach Gerry Gallagher), work ethic and experience to run a successful football program. Last year, his fourth year as head man, and with his first wave of freshmen players turned seniors, he just missed a Bombers trip to the state finals with a 17-0 loss to Cresskill in the semi’s.
This year Boonton won’t sneak up on anyone. Gallagher has set the standard and his players have bought into his system. “We all believe that we are the team to beat.” Quinn Sweeney, Boonton’s senior fullback and inside linebacker said with confidence during the summer. “We all know if we work hard as a team and listen to our coaches, we can accomplish anything.”
You would think graduating the three-headed running attack of Josh Smith, Josh Corporan and Joe Norton would devastate this Bomber team. But the Bomber’s are optimistic they can build on the success from last year.
First, they bring back dynamo quarterback Gage Cabalar who has all the skills and aptitude to lead a team, and who has a knack for making the big play at the right time. He got his break last season at QB when Norton went down with an injury. So he’s got the experience behind center as a varsity signal caller.
Another key feature of the Bombers can be found up front. Center Connor Davis and guards Anthony Marino and James Robert, all seniors, are all coming back and all know how to create openings for their runningbacks to explode out of. Having vets on the line is a luxury Gallagher is glad to have. “Those guys just gel real well together which is great because they’ll make it easier for the guys stepping up in our backfield.”
Since there are new faces in the Bomber’s backfield, Gallagher made a key change that will take the pressure off them. He smartly is moving workhorse Quinn Sweeney, 6-2, 210 pounds, from tight end to fullback. Sweeney is a locomotive whether he’s running the ball or blocking, so having him in the backfield just seems like the right move.
Senior Sean McKeown and juniors Malik Awan, Julian Kempf and TJ Green will be the new featured runningback platoon filling the shoes of Norton, Corporan and Smith. Although they have big shoes to fill, team totally has their back. “We are really confident in these guys.” Sweeney added about his junior runningbacks. “They are extremely talented and work incredibly hard. They will be great!”
Defensively the Bombers are loaded with talent at the linebacker position. Sweeney comes back for his third season in the inside. Dave Koval, Kyle Waters and Sean McKeown, all major contributors last year, also return.
Junior Amaro Anderson and Gage Cabalar are very quick and tough in the secondary for defenders to pass against. Connor Davis will also be nuisance on the D-line.
Last season special teams was a key part of the Bombers success. Then sophomore Evan Fajardo handled punts, extra points and field goals and will look to improve on his impressive 90%-plus accuracy. And, although you want your two-way quarterback to get as much rest as possible, last season Cabalar blocked three field goals. In a tough division like this one, three points can change the outcome of a game and Gallagher will need to weigh the risks of playing his valuable starter on special teams as well.
With the machine Gallagher has built those 1-9 Boonton Bomber seasons are over. This current group of players believes they can go further than last year’s team and there is no reason to believe they can’t. Staying healthy will be key; they have a lot of guys playing both ways so keeping injuries to a minimum will be a priority.
2014 Record: (7-4-0)
Head Coach: Bryan Gallagher
Assistants: Sean Norton, Anthony Chierici, Pete Nienstadt, Mike London, Pete Llaneza & Devon Engelberger
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 1, Group 1
High Point: Getting to the semi-finals.
Low Point: There weren’t many low points last season. Even some of their losses were only by one point. If I were to pick a low point it would be getting shutout in the semi’s but even that game they were still very much in it.
Season Breakdown & Prediction
Games to Watch: Week 1 vs. Butler. Butler is one of the highest ranked teams in our area this preseason. They only have one or two starters under 6 foot and they are loaded with great athletes. If Boonton wins it will give them a huge boost of momentum. But even if they lose in a close match, it could have the same positive effect. But losing by a large margin could have the exact opposite impact and could have a ripple effect throughout the rest of their schedule.
Position to Watch: Runningback. Sean McKeown and juniors Malik Awan, Julian Kempf and TJ Green are filling in some big shoes. But with the blockers Gallagher has in place, the production from these guys can be significant.
Young Guns to Watch: Junior split end and defensive back Amaro Anderson is a game changer. He’s only 5’8” but he’s got lightning speed, crazy glue hands and can out jump anyone on the team. “He changes the way we run our offense.” Gallagher said about his junior stud receiver. “Teams move their defenders back to account for his passing threat. So it makes it easy for us to run. He’s just a great athlete.”
In a Nutshell: This Bomber team has a lot going for it; talent, a willingness to battle, confidence and experience having success. Getting through Butler, Dover, Beard, Hopatcong and Mt Lakes definitely has its challenges. But the Bombers are definitely in the conversation with all those teams.
Dream Season: Getting back to the semi’s.
Nightmare Season: Not getting past the first round of the playoffs.
Tidbit: Gallagher says this is a smartest team he ever coached. He’s got more kids than he ever had with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.
Playoff Appearances: 7
Finals Appearances: 2
State Titles: 1
Playoff Record: 7-6 (.538)
|9/11||Butler||Away - Butler HS|
|9/18||Pequannock||Home - Boonton HS|
|9/25||Dover||Away - Hamilton Field|
|10/2||Mountain Lakes||Home - Boonton HS|
|10/9||North Warren||Away - North Warren HS|
|10/16||Whippany Park||Away - Whippany Park|
|10/23||Morris Catholic||Home - Boonton HS|
|10/31||Morristown-Beard||Away - Morristown-Beard HS|
|11/6||Hopatcong||Home - Boonton HS|