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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.

North Warren 2

Junior Nick Heinz is a big back that will likely be given a lot of the load in the running game this season (photo by Georgi Muha).

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.

North Warren 1

Ramapo transfer Darian Redmond is slated to be one of the top wide receivers in Morris-Sussex (photo by Georgi Muha).

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.


North Warren has all but one senior in his starting offense (photo by Georgi Muha).


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

2014 Recap

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.

Postseason History

Playoff Appearances: 5
Finals Appearances: 0
State Titles: 0
Playoff Record: 2-5 (.285)


9/12at Morristown-Beard1pm
9/25at Jefferson7pm
10/2Morris Catholic7pm
10/16at Lenape Valley7pm
10/24at Kittatinny1pm


3Joe ToribioQB, DBSo.11-May160
7Sean KattermanKSr.10-May155
8Tyler ThatcherSE, DBSo.04-May125
10Ron LubertazzoQB, DBJr.08-May150
11Kyle TrinneerQB, DESo.10-May155
12Ricky BairdHB, LBSr.10-May190
13James FerraraHB, DBJr.08-May140
14John BurnsSE, DESr.03-Jun200
15Darian RedmondSE, DBSr.04-Jun185
20Sean ThorntonQB, DBSr.01-Jun195
24Conor FrehillHB, DBSr.10-May175
25Nick HeinzFB, LBJr.09-May200
30James BartonFB, LBSo.08-May150
32CJ AshtonHB, DBSo.09-May145
35Eliajia CroweHB, DBSr.08-May165
50Justin StarkOT, DLSr.07-May250
51Luke GolickC, DLSo.04-May230
52Scott YurovchakOG, LBJr.05-May210
54Brandon MickelsonOT, DLSr.10-May260
55Trevor BaldwinOG, LBSr.11-May195
56Logan DentOG, DLSr.11-May195
60Jacob CollverOT, DLSr.11-May220
61Matt MolissoC, DLSr.01-Jun195
62Ryan ReyesOG, LBJr.06-May175
65Billy EttingerOT, DLJr.09-May190
66Alex HicksFB, LBSo.10-May185
68Jonathan LucasOT, LBSo.11-May200
70Jacob MauerOT, DTJr.01-Jun240
72Dominick CarlucciOG, DLSr.01-Jun230
73Chris WoelhkersOT, DESr.11-May230
74Chris SantamariaC, DLJr.08-May180
75Ryan DurlingOG, DLSo.02-Jun250
77Joseph SpragueT, DLSo.09-May290
78Billy FrazierOT, DLSr.11-May250
79Max MaroccolliOT, DTJr.01-Jun215
80Dillon BragattoSE, DBSo.05-May130
82Justin ArmstrongTE, DEJr.03-Jun210
84Chase RileyTE, CBSr.01-Jun170
88Doug AckerstromTE, LBSr.Jun-2000205

What do you predict for the Patriots in 2015?  Comment below.

George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.

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  1. Pingback: The Ultimate Preseason Guide to Football – Morris Sussex Sports

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