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If you are part of Cougar Nation, you might think the cards are stacked against you for the upcoming football season. You’ve won three games in the last three years, you play more away games than home this season, and you have four or five teams on your schedule that have a legitimate chance to win states. But you have several reasons to be very optimistic.

Chatham has the ability to be a disruptive opponent in the American Division (photo by Georgi Muha).

Chatham has the ability to be a disruptive opponent in the American Division (photo by Georgi Muha).

First, look at your coach Jason Izsa. The guy is passionate about football and has a resume filled with success as a player and a coach. First he played for legendary coach Ed Sadloch at Cedar Grove, who has more rings than fingers. Izsa was also on the staff in Madison for several years under Coach Chris Kubik, who’s been one of the hottest coaches in Morris County over the last decade. Plus, Izsa is on an upward trend. He took over a 0-10 team. His first year, they went 0-10 while implementing his own system. His second season they went 3-7 and his team showed flashes of toughness. Now in his third year, his system is in place and the upward trend will continue. These things take time, and Izsa is doing an excellent job.

Secondly, you have to look at the personnel. Right now there are 20 senior studs on the roster, most of whom will be major contributors. You have to love the line too with veterans like Ryan Barnett (who’s actually a tight end), Colin Ness, Michael Kellstrom and Nick Zack. These guys average over 250 pounds and are all athletes – no fatties here.

The Cougars bring back veteran experience on both sides of the line (photo by Georgi Muha).

The Cougars bring back veteran experience on both sides of the line (photo by Georgi Muha).

Skill wise, the team is also loaded with a bunch of quick and strong position players that can change the pace of the game as good as anyone in this league. Alex Sands (6-1, 195) returns as QB with Justin Hays (5-9, 170) and Matt Nestler (5-8, 195) bringing a little Thunder & Lighting action to the run game. Robbie Moskowitz (5-10, 175) and Brian Brady (6-0, 170) are deadly weapons in the passing attack. Both receivers can make plays in short-yardage situations and have deep-ball ability as well.

Here’s the deal: The Cougars may not have been formidable over the past several years–but those days are over. Izsa’s in town and I’m telling you he has a football team this year. It will be a mistake if opponents gloss over the Cougars because they will absolutely come up and bite them.

Assistant coach Chris St. Genis prepares the defense for an upcoming play during a preseason practice (photo by Georgi Muha).

Assistant coach Chris St. Genis prepares the defense for an upcoming play during a preseason practice (photo by Georgi Muha).

As for my outlook, this is the bottom line: Chatham likely gets a playoff bid with four wins against their schedule. Getting four wins against Randolph, Sparta, High Point, Montville, Morris Hills, Vernon, Pope John and Par Hills won’t be easy (they play Morristown in Week 9, after the eight game cutoff). But its doable.

Chatham Cougars

2014 Record: (3-7-0)
Head Coach: Jason Izsa
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 2, Group 3

2014 Recap

High Point:  Going 3-7 after going 0-10 two years in a row.
Low Point:  Losing to Randolph 21-24 in their home opener.  A win there would have changed the course of the entire season.

Season Breakdown & Prediction

Games to Watch:  Week 1 against Randolph.  Chatham doesn’t care there is a new coaching staff in Randolph, they are still bitter about last year’s nail biter.
Position to Watch:  Ryan Barnett at tight end and linebacker is the man you have to watch.  On offense he’ll catch 6-8 TDs this year and on defense he’ll have 80 tackles and 5 INTs.  Remember I said that.
In a Nutshell:  Chatham was six points from being 5-3 at the playoff cutoff last season.  Trust me, the Cougars will make this division very interesting this season.
Dream Season:  Making it to the semi’s.
Nightmare Season:  Not winning at least four games.

Postseason History

Playoff Appearances: 6
Finals Appearances: 1
State Titles: 0
Playoff Record: 4-6 (.400)


11-Sep@ Randolph
26-SepHigh Point
02-Oct@ Montville
10-OctMorris Hills
16-Oct@ Vernon
24-OctPope John
31-Oct@ Parsippany Hills
07-Nov@ Morristown


NumberPlayerGradePositionHeight Weight
1Kurlak, Greg12WR/DB5'11"165
2Moskowitz, Robbie12WR/DB5'10"175
3Lofaro, Thomas11QB/LB6'0"175
4Barnett, Ryan12TE/LB6'3"235
5Cosgrove, Pat11RB/DB5'10"170
6Harrington, Connor10WR/DB5'8"145
7Brady, Brian12WR/DB6'0"170
8Njango, Stan11WR/DB5'11"140
9Sukiennik, Luke12RB/DB6'1"180
11Bredahl, Chris12WR/DB5'10"170
13Fisher, Eoghan10
14Cuttita, Christian10WR/DB5'9"145
15Sands, Alex12QB/DB6'1"165
17Ott, Dylan12WR/LB6'0"190
20Schelling, Max10WR/DB5'11"160
25Adams, Timmy11RB/DB5'9"165
26Maguire, Jack11WR/DB5'5"125
27Sardini, Drew10RB/LB5'8"170
33Hayes, Justin12RB/DB5'9"170
34Kinder, Chris12RB/LB5'10"200
40Nestler, Matt12RB/LB5'8"195
44O'Connell, Mike12RB/DB5'9"160
48Dean, Jack11RB/LB6'1"185
50Vivona, David12TE/LB5'11"205
51Herbert, Ben10OL/LB5'9"185
52Zack, Nick12OL/LB5'10"200
53LaMantia, CJ12OL/DL6'0"205
54LaMon, Graham11OL/DL6'6"300
55Strutt, Chris10OL/DL6'0"160
60Ness, Ryan11OL/DL6'0"235
65Pollard, Joshua12OL/DL6'0"215
66Kellstrom, Michael12OL/DL6'0"270
68Ness, Colin12OL/DL6'0"280
70Smiley, Sean11OL/DL5'10"150
77Elliott, Thomas10OL/DL6'1"190
79Khan, Jahanzab12OL/DL6'2"230
92O'Malley, Patrick10OL/DL6'0"195

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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