2015 Mendham Minutemen Football Preview

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It’s hard to find Mendham High. I’ve heard it doesn’t show on GPS. And it’s tucked down a driveway disguised by a church on one side and beautiful homes and mature trees on the other—so it’s easy to miss. If you successfully arrive at the school, good luck finding the field. You can’t drive to it; you need to walk: down a hill, up another. Past a field house. By a parking lot. Down the stairs.

Mendham. Hard to find, and maybe harder to assess. This year they’re the understated, underestimated—maybe even the underdogs.

Go ahead. Overlook them. Then, make your trek to the field and climb those tall bleachers. Hang out by the new press box. Now you can see the students sprawled on the hill, hear the band thumping down the access road. Now you can see the blue “M” gleaming in the light on the turf, and notice the soft goods reflected in the endless curtain of blue around you.

Coach Carpluck  makes sure his team has every detail covered before the season opens against Vernon on September 11th (photo by Georgi Muha).

Coach Carpluck makes sure his team has every detail covered before the season opens against Vernon on September 11th (photo by Georgi Muha).

Mendham has a tradition that won’t quit, and that tradition will shore up a young squad eager to prove itself worthy of taking that field and wearing those colors.

This year’s Minutemen are eager, talented—not varsity proven—but brothers nonetheless, and brothers who’ve always had winning records. “I’ve played with these guys since I was four years old,” Mendham captain and senior lineman Jeff Sica explains. Since the days that Dan McHugh, the quietly confident QB with the rocket arm, waited for his chance to take the helm on Twin Borough Bears but was bumped by none other than Pope John superstar Sonny Abramson. Instead, McHugh honed his skills at running back.

Mendham works on special teams during a preseason practice in August (photo by Georgi Muha).

Mendham works on special teams during a preseason practice in August (photo by Georgi Muha).

This isn’t just a quarterback that can run if he needs to; this quarterback may be the fastest guy on the team. Oh, wait, are you seeing it now? The possibilities for the season? How about Sica, the 6-2, 220-pound guard/tackle who moved from safety to corner to DE to LB to WR to TE and DE? How about Drew Robshaw, a varsity-tested 6-1, 205-pound MLB who has moved to outside?

They’re versatile, multi-skilled, and hungry to show it. Don’t write them off. It’ll come back to haunt you.

Offense

Head coach Bill Carpluk says, there is “not a point back—no one who scored last year other than Zach.” Zach Warcola is the 6-4, 185-pound kicker who consistently put extra points on the board in the 2014 season.

Carpluk also mentions that this is the second year in a row with a new, untested quarterback. Last year’s Mike Rikkola had a strong senior season, and quickly owned his position as a result of his athleticism and hard work. But early on, long before official practices started, McHugh was a serious contender for the job. That’s how good McHugh is, and that’s how close he was to being a second-year starter.

Mendham is flying under the radar with teams like Roxbury and Randolph getting all of the preseason attention (photo by Georgi Muha).

Mendham is flying under the radar with teams like Roxbury and Randolph getting all of the preseason attention (photo by Georgi Muha).

Also on offense, you’ll find Robshaw at fullback, who is the most passionate player I saw on the field in the Chatham scrimmage, and possibly the most athletic. Jack Duggan (6-0. 185) is aggressive, maybe the strongest on team, and extremely coachable—sticking with his assignment and doing his job. Reid Randolph (5-11, 185) is the sophomore everyone is talking about, and junior Jack Anderson (5-9, 170) is the agile, quick-on-his-feet halfback with good hands too, by the way.

Circle those names on your roster.

Line

There is not a single returning lineman, so PJ O’Donnell (6-2, 205), Mike Heiman (6-3, 225), and Jeff Sica will be among those who write their own stories, anchored by the tirelessly optimistic, ever-determined line-beast in Sica.

Defense

Robshaw and Zach Wierzbicki (5-11, 180), who played at corner last year, both return from some varsity time to play on the outside, Robshaw moving from middle and Wierzbicki moving from corner. Both bring athleticism and leadership to the position. Tommy Morrell (5-10, 190)—who, according to a teammate, is so funny he makes everyone want to linger at practice; and who LIT UP a few guys in the Chatham scrimmage—will split time with Duggan.

Although the Minutemen take themselves very serious, they also know how to stay loose (photo by Georgi Muha).

Although the Minutemen take themselves very serious, they also know how to stay loose (photo by Georgi Muha).

Kienen “bone crusher” Lyons (5-11, 205) moves from FS to MLB, and has shown himself to be a natural at defense, along with the fearless, hard-hitting Braden Stagg (5-10, 205), and Tommy Spinelli (5-9, 185), who is the kind of guy who makes the entire team better through his determination and coach-ability.

Two sophomores to watch include Reid Randolph, a fast, aggressive back and the frighteningly large and hugely athletic sophomore Grady Smith (6-2, 225) at OL/DL.

“This is a tough league,” Coach Carpluk says with regard to his upcoming schedule that includes Roxbury, Randolph, Delbarton, and West Morris. Indeed, Mendham will need to learn from every game—win or lose—and they’ll need to do it without injuries. If they do, expect this team to make noise in the postseason.

Mendham Minutemen

2014 Record: (5-5-0)
Head Coach: Bill Carpluk
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 2, Group 4

2014 Recap

High Point:  Getting a playoff bid.
Low Point:  Getting shutout by Phillipsburg in the first round.

Season Breakdown & Prediction

Games to Watch:  Week 1 against Vernon.  Every win will count this year and a win here will set the Minutemen on an upward trajectory.
Position to Watch:  The line.  Sica, O’Donnell, Heiman, Jack Lovecchio, etc.  These are new names to the varsity line but are all capable of moving the chains.  They’re the foundation this offense builds on.
Young Guns to Watch:  Sophomore Reid Randolph is a baller and a guy who will make the most of his varsity opportunities.
In a Nutshell:  This schedule rides like a roller coaster.  Managing the highs and lows will be the tricky part.
Dream Season:  Getting to the semis.
Nightmare Season:  Not qualifying for the state tournament.

Postseason History

Playoff Appearances: 15
Finals Appearances: 8
State Titles: 1
Playoff Record: 13-14 (.481)

Schedule

DateOpponent
9/11@ Vernon
9/19Roxbury
9/26Randolph
10/3@ Morris Knolls
10/10Morristown
10/17@ Delbarton
10/23@ West Morris
10/31Mount Olive
11/6@ Montville

Roster

Jersey NumberFirst NameLast NameGrade
1ChristianDiDea12
2JackAnderson11
3ZacharyWierzbicki12
4KyleGarrison11
5AlecHaddad12
6JoeyScotti10
7ReidRandolph10
8MichaelCataldo10
9ThomasMorrell12
10RobertLongo11
11DanielMcHugh12
12SamSchmidt11
13AdamGraham10
14JackDiegnan10
15GarrettPetrucci11
16ZackPolley10
17KyleCoba11
18GarrisonHiggins10
19ImmanuelFernando11
21BrentBartzak11
22KienanLyons12
24NatSpencer11
25JohnDugan12
27MattPresutti10
31ThomasSpinelli11
32GuiseppiCanino10
44AndrewRobshaw12
45Andrew Parrish12
46BradenStagg11
51WayneWeeks10
52LucaFrumento10
53PJO'Donnell12
54JayPerrin11
55JackBradley11
56JeffreySica12
57MichaelBowen11
58JackLoVecchio11
59KyleCollins10
62BlakeBarrigan11
66MatthewIwaniura10
70BrianSpeicher11
72MichaelHeiman12
75GradySmith10
76CalebDrysdale10
77PatStaley10
78DannyMortenson10
79GlennKlier10
80AndrewCarter10
80PatrickMacLean10
82JohnGeppert12
85WalterLongo10
86ZacharyWarcola12
87JustinKaplan11
88FinniganMcGinley11

One Comment

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

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