2015 Pequannock Golden Panthers Football Preview

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You could say that Pequannock should be having a rebuilding year. After going 9-2 with a senior-heavy team that went all the way to the semi finals in the North 1, Group 2 playoff section, they should be depleted and need time to regroup. But you’d be wrong in thinking that.

Yes, the Golden Panthers did lose 10 of 11 players on offense and are only returning five or six guys on defense. But don’t think for a minute that this will be an off year for these guys because it won’t. Here’s all you need to know about the G-Pants in 2015.

The Golden Panthers are working hard in the offseason to build on last season's success

The Golden Panthers are working hard in the offseason to build on last season’s success (photo by Georgi Muha).

First of all coach Ed Kopp, who is entering his 9th season, is a total veteran and knows what he’s doing. Although he’s lost a lot of starters to graduation, just about every returner has gotten his fair share of varsity dunks and they know what it’s like to compete at the varsity level.

Secondly, these current players were part of last year’s successful 9-2 ride that got them a taste away from walking through the tunnels of MetLife Stadium. Seeing what it takes to get that far is a huge asset for this team. “This current group were all part of last year’s success and they are all very hungry to build on that. Success breeds success,” Coach Kopp explains.

Lastly, the starters that are coming back from last year’s team were all key players. Many made All-Conference and All-Area honors and are now bigger, stronger and faster.

Offensively, senior Tommy Crooks (6-1, 200) will take over the reigns at QB from Tim Horgan who graduated. Kopp is high on his signal caller and feels the athletic Crooks might just steal the show offensively. “We feel really good about Crooks. He’s got all of the tools you need. He can run, throw and think on his feet. And his top-end speed is really good as well.”

Coach Kopp feels quarterback Tommy Crooks gives his team a great chance at success this season (photo by Georgi Muha).

Coach Kopp feels quarterback Tommy Crooks gives his team a great chance at success this season (photo by Georgi Muha).

Fellow senior Justin Brunda (5-9, 185) will be the workhorse running the ball. Brunda, who came on the scene as a freshman and whose claim-to-fame was returning a kick for a touchdown that year, is another talented athlete. He’s a power back and very durable so he’ll be the foundation of Kopp’s game plan.

Also coming back offensively is the big 6-2, 265-pound senior left tackle Mike Yaconis. Yaconis started every down last season and has all the technique and power to pass block, plow ahead on run plays, or creatively keep defenders away from ball carriers. You can count on the Golden Panthers to focus their offense to the left side behind him.

Defensively, Pequannock is actually looking a bit frightening. The athletic senior Jake Foukas (6-1, 210) is one of the most dominant defensive players in this division. He plays defensive tackle but looks like a muscly wide receiver. Opposing offenses need to double and triple team him because he is such a disruption and makes more plays behind the line of scrimmage than not.

Senior linebackers Matt Forrest (5-10, 190) and Jake Kershaw (5’9, 190) are two other returning starters from last season as well. Forrest was second in tackles in 2014 and Kershaw showed he could be dominant during the Golden Panthers’ playoff run.

In case you are wondering, this team is good and they will be very relevant in the Independence Division. However, their regular season schedule will be harder than it was last season. Teams like Dover, Boonton and Hopatcong are stacked this year. And Mountain Lakes is, well, Mountain Lakes.

This is why I like Pequannock’s chances. Besides all the stud athletes I mentioned above, no one seems to be thinking about them. It’s assumed they are rebuilding and teams like Boonton, Hopatcong and Dover have everyone pre-occupied.

After a few games everyone will know the Golden Panthers are for real. Then everyone will be well prepared. Their tough schedule will pay dividends when they get to their State Section where Westwood, Lenape Valley and some other scary teams will be waiting. They’ll be totally battled-tested by then.

I am really liking their chances at making a legitimate run this season. I don’t know if they’ll get through their regular season as successfully as they did last season. But as long as they can stay positive through the tough times, there is no reason these guys can’t go one game further than last years’ group – and we all know what that means!

Pequannock Panthers

2014 Record: (9-2-0)
Head Coach: Ed Kopp
Assistant Coaches: Luke Sica, AJ Wells, Ed Klimek, Matt Wisdom, Joel Troast and Ben Kohle.
Freshman Coaches: Marc DelSordo, Rich Kerber and Bob Jachera.
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 1, Group 2

2014 Recap

High Point: Making it to the semi-finals of the state tournament after going 8-1 through their regular season schedule.
Low Point: There actually weren’t too many low points last year.  I would say the loss against Lakes since it was the only game they weren’t competitive in.

Season Breakdown & Prediction

Games to Watch: How Pequannock get’s through Week 1 and 2 against Dover and Boonton emotionally will dictate the season. Even if they end up 0-2, it will be imperative to hold the ship together because there will still be a lot of football left.
Position to Watch: Kicker. Senior Dan Duffy make be all the difference in the world for this team. Last season he was perfect on extra points which proved to be the difference in four games where the Golden Panthers won by 2-points or less, including two in overtime.
In a Nutshell: Pequannock has momentum on its side. There is no better time to make another run at a state title than now.
Dream Season: Getting to the state finals.
Nightmare Season: Not making the playoffs.

Postseason History

Playoff Appearances: 11
Finals Appearances: 3
State Titles: 2
Playoff Record: 10-9 (.526)


9/11Dover07:00 pm
9/18@Boonton07:00 pm
9/26@Wallkill Valley01:00 pm
10/2Whippany Park07:00 pm
10/9@Hopatcong07:00 pm
10/16Kinnelon07:00 pm
10/23@Newton07:00 pm
10/30Mountain Lakes07:00 pm
11/6Kittatinny07:00 pm



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

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