“If you respect us, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” That is literally the attitude of this year’s Wildcat team…with the exception of the “kill you” part. I visited with Coach Delaney and the players in July and there was this feeling in the air that I’ve never experienced in High Point. And if I were an opposing coach, I’d pay attention.
Although this attitude is coming from the players Delaney has something to do with it. This is Delaney’s second stint with High Point. His first ended in 2010 when he was forced out by budget cuts. But he had taken over a 0-10 team back then and in just a few years had them at 8-3 and in the semifinals of the playoffs. He has similar success as Montville’s head man. When High Point asked Delaney to come back, everyone was excited.
But the team’s edginess is coming from within. “Earlier in the year, I sat down with our seniors and told them they need to step up as leaders of the program,” Delaney said. “I think it clicked and I’ve noticed they are really stepping it up.”
And clicked it did. Coming off a 1-9 season can be demoralizing. But these players seem more motivated than ever to be a contender in this division. “We know we’ve lost to a lot of the teams in our division in the past,” quarterback Mike Yarosz told me. “But that was then. We feel we have the players and motivation for it to be our turn.”
Yarosz’s passion permeates the entire locker room and that’s the part that opposing coaches have to be on high alert for. The past three seasons High Point’s varsity team has gone 3-27. Not only is this incoming senior class sick of losing, they are ready to do whatever it takes to start winning.
“At the end of last season, Coach gave us two weeks off. But we were in the weight room the very next day.” Yarosz added, “We have not taken one day off since.”
If you look at the meat of this team, there is no doubt they have what they need to hang with any team in the division. Up front they have some big horses in seniors linemen Kevin Lewis (6-0, 215), Alex Bello (5-10, 170) and Brett Schiller (6-1, 225). This is an athletic group with excellent technique that can create openings on any team they will face.
High Point runs a wishbone type of offense that features a lot of running by the quarterback and fullback. Seniors Mike Yarosz (5-6, 170) and George Klag (5-11, 190) pack a punch with their mixture of speed, size and power. Skill positions will get contributions by a lot of younger guys.
Defensively, all the guys I mentioned will pull double duty. Some younger guys will also step up to fill important roles. One guy who did a great job last year is junior nose guard Cliff Ruttter (6-0, 230).
At the end of the day, there is zero pressure on this year’s Wildcats. Everyone in this division is focused on Sparta, Par Hills and Pope John – two of which are coming off state championship seasons and one “power private.” So these guys have the whole flying-under-the-radar thing going for them.
But the team can also play. There is no reason they should not have a viable opportunity to earn a playoff bid. My prediction is by the time Week 7 comes, they’ll be studying the power points and planning very plausible scenarios that will get them into the postseason…including controlling their own destiny with a win over Montville in Week 8.
High Point Wildcats
2014 Record: (1-9-0)
Head Coach: Jim Delaney
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 1, Group 3
High Point: Beating Montville in a convincing 33-20 win in front of their home fans.
Low Point: Going 1-9.
Season Breakdown & Prediction
Games to Watch: Week 8 against Montville because it will likely have playoff implications.
Position to Watch: The running game. Yarosz and Klag will bring an in-your-face style that will be fun to see in action.
Young Guns to Watch: Junior nose guard Cliff Rutter. He started every game as a sophomore and is just a tough kid who loves to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
In a Nutshell: This is a feisty, scrappy team that has the ability and schedule to go from 1-9 one year to playoff contenders the following year.
Dream Season: Making it to the postseason.
Nightmare Season: Not going .500.
Playoff Appearances: 2
Finals Appearances: 0
State Titles: 0
Playoff Record: 2-2 (.500)
|11-Sep||Mount Olive||07:00 pm|
|18-Sep||Pope John||07:00 pm|
|09-Oct||@Parsippany Hills||07:00 pm|
|24-Oct||@Morris Hills||01:00 pm|
|06-Nov||Morris Knolls||07:00 pm|