It’s about winning state championships for coach Matt Parzero. That is what he learned as a player and assistant coach at Lenape Valley, and that is his mission for North Warren. The question is: can this be the year the Pats pull it off? Let’s look at the makeup of this squad.
Two returning offensive playmakers are senior quarterback Sean Thornton and senior runningback Ricky Baird. Both will try to match the output of last year’s All-Everything back Luke Robertson. And collectively they might just be able to do it.
Thornton, who was converted from runningback to quarterback as a junior, did a fabulous job at the helm. Last year he was a threat with his feet and became more and more potent with his arm as the season went on.
Baird helped to take the load off Robertson last season and finished with 376 yards and 3 TDs on the ground and also was effective as a receiver, despite being hobbled by nagging injuries all season. Since then, he worked hard in the weight room and put on 12 pounds of muscle.
Another offensive offensive player who worked hard in the offseason and is making a name for himself in the running attack is junior Nick Heinz. Heinz is 5-9, 200 pounds and has all the durability you want in a every down back.
There is also a welcomed new addition. In fact, he’d be a welcomed addition to any team in Morris-Sussex. His name is Darian Redmond and he’s a 6-4, 185 senior wide out who seemed to dropped from football heaven into Coach Matt Parzero’s lap when he transferred from Ramapo. “We’re very fortunate to have Darian.” Parzero told me. “He’s going to be a big contributor for us.”
The Pats also bring back four of five linemen, spearheaded by senior center John Donovan. Donovan is extremely tough which he proved when he broke his hand in Week 2 of last season. Not only did he not miss a game, he trained himself to snap the ball with his left hand, including in shotgun situations…and did not flub up one exchange.
Another guy who will be huge on the defensive side of the ball is big 6’3”, 200 lb senior defensive lineman John Burns. Burns was a leading tackler as a junior with 50 and added 4 sacks. He’s the kind of guy that’s in on every play.
If this is the Patriots year for a ring they have two hurdles. The first is getting through a heck of a division with strong teams like Hopatcong, Boonton, Lenape Valley and Butler. The second thing they’ll need to do is to stay healthy. Depth may be an issue but Parzero is masterful at keeping his key guys rested at the right times.
There are a few things about this team that you need to know. First is about the tight bond all the players have. Parzero told me that his seniors are a close knit group of young men. He said some years he’ll have to give a speech to his team on the topic of not having to like all your teammates but do you have to respect them. He said, “Not with this group. These guys are just really close.”
There is also a leadership quality that permeates through all of the players. Parzero said if a player is 5 minutes late for practice, he won’t have to say anything because the players will take care of it themselves. He said there has even been times after practice where he’ll look onto the practice field and said the seniors will be running conditioning sprints on their own. “Even the way they welcomed Darian.” Parzero said. “These guys have known each other for years and they immediately made him feel a part of their team.”
As for my outlook, there is no reason not to feel very optimistic about the Pats this year. What I like most about their chances of going the distance is there is not one individual who will carry the load for North Warren. To me that is a good thing because it forces everyone to be accountable. Don’t get me wrong, don’t think that there aren’t some really talented and athletic kids on this team because there are.
North Warren Patriots
2014 Record: (6-4-0)
Head Coach: Matt Parzero
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 1, Group 2
High Point: Going 4-0 out of the gate against some very solid teams.
Low Point: Coming up just shy against Boonton and Hopatcong.
Season Breakdown & Prediction
Games to Watch: Lenape Valley. Student (Parzero) has a ton of respect for teacher (Lenape Valley’s head coach Don Smolyn) as a former player and assistant coach, he’ll work his tail off to try to school him. Always a fun matchup.
Position to Watch: I love this line! Four out of five last year’s starters are returning. And you can’t not admire center John Donovan for breaking his right hand last season, only to train himself to snap with his left (in shotgun situations and everything).
Young Guns to Watch: Senior Conor Frehill got some dunks carrying the ball last year. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to help carry the run game.
In a Nutshell: This is a passionate and dedicated team. In my years of covering football, those are key ingredients a championship team always has. The fact that Heinz and Redmond spice things up at the skill positions could be the extra juice that help them get through their tough schedule.
Dream Season: Getting to the semi’s would be a huge accomplishment for this group.
Nightmare Season: Not getting a ticket to the dance.
Tidbit: Center John Donovan’s Great Uncle is legendary Hall of Famer Colt Art Donovan.
Playoff Appearances: 5
Finals Appearances: 0
State Titles: 0
Playoff Record: 2-5 (.285)
|10/16||at Lenape Valley||7pm|
|3||Joe Toribio||QB, DB||So.||11-May||160|
|8||Tyler Thatcher||SE, DB||So.||04-May||125|
|10||Ron Lubertazzo||QB, DB||Jr.||08-May||150|
|11||Kyle Trinneer||QB, DE||So.||10-May||155|
|12||Ricky Baird||HB, LB||Sr.||10-May||190|
|13||James Ferrara||HB, DB||Jr.||08-May||140|
|14||John Burns||SE, DE||Sr.||03-Jun||200|
|15||Darian Redmond||SE, DB||Sr.||04-Jun||185|
|20||Sean Thornton||QB, DB||Sr.||01-Jun||195|
|24||Conor Frehill||HB, DB||Sr.||10-May||175|
|25||Nick Heinz||FB, LB||Jr.||09-May||200|
|30||James Barton||FB, LB||So.||08-May||150|
|32||CJ Ashton||HB, DB||So.||09-May||145|
|35||Eliajia Crowe||HB, DB||Sr.||08-May||165|
|50||Justin Stark||OT, DL||Sr.||07-May||250|
|51||Luke Golick||C, DL||So.||04-May||230|
|52||Scott Yurovchak||OG, LB||Jr.||05-May||210|
|54||Brandon Mickelson||OT, DL||Sr.||10-May||260|
|55||Trevor Baldwin||OG, LB||Sr.||11-May||195|
|56||Logan Dent||OG, DL||Sr.||11-May||195|
|60||Jacob Collver||OT, DL||Sr.||11-May||220|
|61||Matt Molisso||C, DL||Sr.||01-Jun||195|
|62||Ryan Reyes||OG, LB||Jr.||06-May||175|
|65||Billy Ettinger||OT, DL||Jr.||09-May||190|
|66||Alex Hicks||FB, LB||So.||10-May||185|
|68||Jonathan Lucas||OT, LB||So.||11-May||200|
|70||Jacob Mauer||OT, DT||Jr.||01-Jun||240|
|72||Dominick Carlucci||OG, DL||Sr.||01-Jun||230|
|73||Chris Woelhkers||OT, DE||Sr.||11-May||230|
|74||Chris Santamaria||C, DL||Jr.||08-May||180|
|75||Ryan Durling||OG, DL||So.||02-Jun||250|
|77||Joseph Sprague||T, DL||So.||09-May||290|
|78||Billy Frazier||OT, DL||Sr.||11-May||250|
|79||Max Maroccolli||OT, DT||Jr.||01-Jun||215|
|80||Dillon Bragatto||SE, DB||So.||05-May||130|
|82||Justin Armstrong||TE, DE||Jr.||03-Jun||210|
|84||Chase Riley||TE, CB||Sr.||01-Jun||170|
|88||Doug Ackerstrom||TE, LB||Sr.||Jun-2000||205|