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Twenty five years. That’s how long it’s been since the Hanover Park Hornets won their last state championship. I know this because I was a pudgy sophomore bag holder on that team and have the ring to prove it. Although a piece of me is proud of the fact that I was part of the one and only state championship team at Hanover Park, there is a bigger piece of me that is dying for the Hornets to get to MetLife Stadium and hold that NJSIAA trophy high above their heads once again.
Hanover Park has always had a reputation for turning out tough, hard-nosed football players. But they’re usually stout, over-achieving wrestler types who work hard in the weight room. Never are they 6-3, 195-pound gazelles who run 4.4 forties and leap like they’re playing in the NBA. But this year is different.
This year they have a guy that breaks the traditional Hornet mold. Senior wideout/defensive back Thomasz Radomski is a legitimate blue chip recruit who somehow ended up wearing black and gold (which this Hornet alumn couldn’t be more happy about). And he’s a perfect fit for veteran coach Gerry Moore who just happens to have a little obsession with the forward pass.
In all seriousness, Radomski is a total game changer and will be the best guy on the field in every game he plays this year. Add the Hornets pass-happy offense, and he’s poised for a monster season.
What’s going to be tough for opponents is that they will have to move more players then they would care to Radomski’s side of the field. But the Hornets also have another huge threat in junior tight end Eric Magnifico (6-2, 215) who is the second best player on the field at all times. Magifico and would be the number one receiver on any other team in Morris-Sussex. Game planning against this duel threat is going to be challenging to say the least.
There are other talented players are coming back as well. Productive runningback Anthony Olivieri (5-10, 190) returns for his senior season. Offensive lineman Ryan George (6-1, 200) will also be looking to add on to his successful junior year. And senior DT Drew Croessmann (6-2, 235) is a massive presence up the middle and his favorite saying is “three-and-out”.
There has been a long drought since the last time the Hornets won a title and the players and coaches are well aware of it. “The guys from that 1990 team are always close by and come by our program a lot. Everyone knows how long it’s been since we won a title.” Coach Gerry Moore told me. “We always have a competitive team. And this community deserves another state championship.”
In an interview earlier in the year, Radomski assured me that this team is very serious about this coming season. “We know that if we want to win a championship that everyone on our team has to be on board. We work incredibly hard as a team.” The big time receiver explained to me. “We also don’t think we older players are above anyone else. If a younger player points something out to an varsity player, we listen. We don’t assume we know everything because we don’t.”
Radomski actually went out of his way to share about how the team feels the senior leadership is something everyone is bought in to. “We are all taking leadership very seriously. If there is a player that lives on the other side of Florham Park and we have to leave an hour earlier to pick him up to make sure he’s at practice, we will do it. We know that those are the kinds of things we need to do if we are going to be successful.”
As for the objective outlook for this team (something I warn you I have a difficult time doing for my Hornets), there are four things you should think about when it comes to deciding if 25 years is long enough between state titles; 1) Radomski and Magnifico are the real dealio, 2) getting through their regular season schedule will make them battle-tested for their state section, 3) Coach Moore’s years of dedication to the Hornets deserves to be honored with the top prize and 4) the last state championship team also had a Eastern European name on its roster (and his last name rhymes with who-ha – just sayin’).
Hanover Park Hornets
2014 Record: (6-4-0)
Head Coach: Gerry Moore
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 2, Group 2
High Point: Coming out of the gate 4-0.
Low Point: Finishing at 2-4 and then losing to Ridgefield Park in the first round of the postseason.
Season Breakdown & Prediction
Game to Watch: Madison…it always is. But the game is scheduled for Week 9 which is past the playoff cutoff so it has no implications on the postseason. But every game of the second half of their schedule is going to be fun because Lenape Valley, Hackettstown, Butler and Dover are all very good teams.
Position to Watch: I love right up the middle on defense. Drew Croessmann is frightening enough at nose tackle. But back him up with senior linebacker Anthony Olivieri and junior linebacker Eric Magnifico and you have a force that will be a headache for opponents.
Young Guns to Watch: Thomasz Radomski’s little bro Michal. He’s a 6-3, 180-pound sophomore who also has the skills to pay the bills.
In a Nutshell: If it were ever a time for the Hornets to make a run at it, it is with this group of dedicated athletes.
Dream Season: Taking home the top prize.
Nightmare Season: Not making the playoffs.
Tidbit: HP is installing turf on their field. As of today, there is a two story mound of dirt on the field. Something tells me that getting it in playable condition is wishful thinking for this year. So if they are going to have a dream season, it might have to be done all on the road.
Playoff Appearances: 14
Finals Appearances: 2
State Titles: 1
Playoff Record: 8-13 (.380)
|10/9||at Lenape Valley||7pm|