Not a bad sophomore season for Coach CJ Robinson. Sure they didn’t make the postseason but they just barely missed it, and they were very much in every game. After coming off a dreary 1-8 season in ‘13, going 4-4 at the ‘14 playoff cutoff–including taking the big boys of this division to the wire–Robinson has shown to be creating a feisty culture in H-Town.
The ‘15 Tigers will keep the momentum going and build on the foundation that last year’s team poured. The there are some veterans coming back this team is ultimately very young in some key spots but they are extremely excited and have high expectations for themselves. What opposing teams should be concerned about is that they are a loose team brimming with self confidence. That’s the kind of attitude that helped them last year in their upset against Hanover Park and near-overtime win against Lenape Valley.
As for the guys who will be contributing this season, Seniors Nick Renne (5-5, 160), Michael Castellano (5-8, 186) and Brendan Finn (6-0, 200) are coming back with varsity experience at the linebacker position. These three guys will be the heart of a spirited defense.
Offensively, seniors Christian Rodriguez (6-0, 215) and Ryan Snyder (6-1, 220) will set the tone at the offensive line. They’ll be key in blasting openings so senior runningback Joe Renne (5-3, 140) can do what he does best, and that is to out-run defensive backs.
Renne is the every down back who will get the lion share of the carriers. He’s a total athlete with a low center of gravity which makes him very difficult to tackle to the ground.
His success will open things up for the aerial attack. Senior wideout Patrick Sullivan (5-4, 130) will be the guy that opposing defenses will have to key on. He’s extremely elusive and can make the big play, especially if teams leave him alone.
What I love about this Hackettstown team is that all the pressure is on everyone else in this division and this team knows it. For an opponent that grips the steering wheel too tight, the Tigers can put a monkey wrench in things. And, against an opponent that falls behind and struggles, H-Town can have its way.
“We’ve been working really hard all offseason.” Christian Rodriguez told me. “We are a very close team and we’ll get on each other is someone is dogging a drill or something. We all want to keep getting better.”
As for my outlook, there are some monster opponents on the Tiger’s schedule. But a lot of these same players had a lot of success against these teams as juniors. That will pay dividends this season.
I think its going to take at least five wins against this schedule to get into the playoffs. So winning the ones they are favored in is the first priority. Then finding ways to pick off a few of the big boys in the division will be imperative. The fact that this Hackettstown team is having fun on the field will help them get the W’s they need to get to the dance. Once they get there, then they are in reaching distance of getting a chance of playing at MetLife Stadium.
2014 Record: (4-5-0)
Head Coach: C.J. Robinson
Assistant Coaches: Chris Miller, Mike Vellucci, Mike Puccetti, Marshall Cuomo and Frank Rodgers.
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 2, Group 2
High Point: The fact that they were very relevant in every game coming off a 1-8 season in ‘13.
Low Point: Losing to Lenape Valley by one point in OT, a loss that essentially kept them from the postseason.
Season Breakdown & Prediction
Games to Watch: Week 1 against Whippany Park. A win would give them good momentum but a loss could have the opposite effect.
Position to Watch: I like Nick Renne, Michael Castellano and Brendan Finn at linebacker. These athletic guys are ballers and will keep opposing offenses in check.
Young Guns to Watch: Junior defensive back JJ Carrara (5-8, 165) can single handedly change the course of a game as he did last season against Hanover Park when he came up with three picks in the Tigers 27-26 win.
In a Nutshell: There is no reason the Tigers can’t be a playoff team this season. Yes, they do have a few “Death Match” games against some nasty teams like Hanover Park, Dover, Lenape Valley and Madison. But Hackettstown always seems to play big in big games.
Dream Season: Making it to the postseason.
Nightmare Season: Having a record under .500.
Playoff Appearances: 13
Finals Appearances: 1
State Titles: 1
Playoff Record: 3-12 (.200)
|9/12||Whippany Park (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|9/18||@Parsippany (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|9/26||@Morris Catholic (NJ)||01:00 pm|
|10/2||Lenape Valley Regional (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|10/10||Dover (NJ)||02:00 pm|
|10/16||@Hanover Park (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|10/23||@Jefferson Township (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|10/30||Madison (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|11/6||Warren Hills (NJ)||07:00 pm|
|First||Last||Grade||#||Height||Weight||Off Pos||Def Pos|