Back in 1990, when I was in tenth grade at Hanover Park, (yes, this is an Al Bundy story coming) we had a big sophomore group on our football team so our coach scheduled a handful of sophomore games for us. Morris Knolls was one of our opponents. I remember during practice our coach had us take a knee so he could inform us how to prepare. “Forget everything we’ve been telling you about football. Morris Knolls does things a lot different than any team you’ve ever faced,” our coach says.
I remember the coaches trying to teach us how to defend coach Bill Regan’s offense. “If you see the quarterback hand the ball off to the fullback, where do you go?” Coach asks. “I tackle the fullback?” I respond from my defensive end position. “No you mental midget. You stay home!” he yells back. That week of practice stays vivid in my memory for some reason.
Regan, who is entering his 41st year as head coach, listened to my story. I could tell he enjoyed it. “We can pose a challenge for opponents if we execute well,” he says with a chuckle.
For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, Coach Regan runs a Veer-option offense that provides options for the offense on any given play. The quarterback can hand the ball to his fullback, or he can keep it, pitch it out to his runningback or even throw it in certain instances. For opposing defenses it poses a lot of confusion because there are fakes and guys moving in different directions. It requires concentration and preparation.
“The service academies run it because they are typically smaller than a lot of their opponents. It allows them to compete with physically better teams,” Coach Regan shares with me. “That’s why we run it too – to optimize our talent. Most teams only have three days to prepare for us which can be an edge for us if we run it well.”
This year’s team features twelve seniors who Coach Regan feels really good about. “We’ve had a very good summer. Our coaches have been very happy and the team has had a very good attitude. Even today, it was hot and we conditioned and the guys were still working hard. They are playing with a lot of intensity.”
Running the Veer offense requires the team to have the right personnel to execute it most effectively. Coach Regan feels this senior group is perfect for the job.
Up front, the Golden Eagles will feature Dean (5-10, 193) and Luke Drugac (5-10, 187), Joe Fullum (6, 180), Shawn Brumfield (5-8, 175), Brian Chegwidden (5-10, 165) and Connor Ablanese (6, 165). Skillwise Jayson Parisi (5-6, 155), Dylan Lesch (6-1, 165) and Joe Stango (5-10, 162) will handle the run game while Mike Thomas (6-3, 165), Luidgi Faubert (5-10, 155) and Rob Gioioso (5-10, 150) are all receiving weapons.
The close knit and selfless nature of this team seems to be the theme of the 2015 Golden Eagles. Even assistant Jeff Churchill commented about it. “These kids seem like they’ll do anything, play any position if it will help the team. There are no individuals who are trying to make it about them on this team.”
That’s the kind of culture the Veer offense is made for. So if I were an opponent, I’d pay attention to that. As for the outlook for this group, here’s the deal: This schedule is full of teams that are preseason favorites like Delbarton, Roxbury and Randolph. However, the way this team is running this offense, they can also keep a lot of opponents on their heels.
Can this be a playoff team? “Why not?” is my answer. Getting to a 4-4 record at the playoff cutoff will likely get them in with all the Power Points from heavy hitters on their schedule. Then when they get to the North 1, Group 4 section they’ll likely be facing familiar foes like Randolph, Roxbury and West Morris (teams on their regular season schedule). So they’ll be familiar with them. Once they get to the postseason dance, they’ll only need two wins to find themselves walking through the tunnels of MetLife Stadium.
Morris Knolls Golden Eagles
2014 Record: (2-8-0)
Head Coach: Bill Regan
Assistant Coaches: Jeff Churchill, Imion Powell, Dylan Rimsky and Mike Sala.
Freshmen Coaches: Jim Pisciotto, Jeff Sankowich and Ryan Esdale.
League: Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Section: North 1, Group 4
High Point: The fact that going 2-8 helped the younger guys on this team work hard in the offseason and bond together as a cohesive unit.
Low Point: Not being anywhere near qualifying for the postseason.
Season Breakdown & Prediction
Games to Watch: Week 1 against Morris Hills is always a fun game. It’s like watching the Chicago Bears against Green Bay in the playoffs, no matter what records are. But I think Week 8 against West Morris will have more meaning at that time in the season. If things fall the way they are supposed to, that could be basically a playoff game for both teams.
Position to Watch: Watch the line. They are all sub 200 pound guys with tons of technique. That’s the kind of blocking that the Veer thrives on.
Young Guns to Watch: Junior quarterback Nick Vittorio (5-10, 165) is he man driving Regan’s ship. He’s got the skillz to pay the billz and Regan is high on him.
In a Nutshell: This is the same schedule that wasn’t very nice to them last season. But its also a much more veteran team.
Dream Season: Making it to the postseason.
Nightmare Season: Falling under .500.
Playoff Appearances: 16
Finals Appearances: 8
State Titles: 4
Playoff Record: 14-12 (.538)
|10/9||@ Mount Olive|
|10/30||@ West Morris|
|11/6||@ High Point|