Coach: Gerry Moore
Year on the Job: 7th
Staff: Todd Pivnick, Rob Marino, John Olivieri, Vin Mennella, Dan Fulton, Pat DiMartino, Zach Sobota,Tom Capra, Evan Picariello, Rob Lenox and Greg Solomon
Home Field: Turf
2015 Record: 9-2
2016 Nemesis: Madison
Freakishly Talented: 6-3, 188-pound safety/wide receiver Michal Radomski is a total freak of nature. The junior is coming off an incredible sophomore year where he had eight interceptions and was a key part of the defense. He has an incredible knack for catching the ball which will also pay big dividends for the Hornets in their passing game.
Where’s the Beef: Offensive tackle Anthony Otto is a man among boys. The 6-3, 245-pound senior has broken just about every weight lifting record in school history and just a powerful human being.
Emotional Leader: Runningback Rory DeLuca wears his passion on his sleeve. He’ll be the pace setter of this offense as he’s the featured back. At 5-10, 200-pounds he has no problem grinding out the tough yards play after play.
Will be a Household Name: Two guys who that every opposing coach will have a hard time having an answer for is junior RB/LB Sean Conley (5-8, 165) and senior WR/DB Jimmy Fortier (5-8, 160). Both had very strong 2015 seasons and are looking like seasoned vets in camp this summer.
Beast Watch: Everyone knows that TE/DE Eric Magnifico is the Darth Vader of this Hornet team. He’s 6-2, 240-pounds can pancake middle linebackers while carrying the ball, can tackle anything and plays no fear. Magnifico has a high football IQ and knows how to read offenses and defenses like a coach. Trust me, this guy is your worst nightmare.
Okay, here’s the deal. If you have played football for the Hanover Park Hornets over the last 25 years, you’ve been continuously compared to the 1990 team. This is the first and last Hornet team to ever win a state championship title. And to this day, you can see these ’90 players coaching youth football, showing up to practices, telling old war stories and walking the catwalks of the school.
I know all this because I was a sophomore on that special season (I played behind the guy who played left bench). Everyone of them has a heart of gold and their intentions are nothing but good. But 1990 is a long, long, long, long (insert a few more longs) time ago. The lore that of that team continues to be a monkey on the back of every Hanover Park football team…unless one of theses years a team decides to stop the drought and earn a championship ring for themselves. And if there is going to be a team to chase the ghosts of yesteryear away and create a legacy of their own, it’s this one. You getting goosebumps yet? If not, your about to.
This 2016 team has all of the pieces in place. You have all the guys mentioned above but I didn’t even say anything about senior quarterback Donato Casolaro (5-10, 185) yet. This guy was the forth leading passer in the state as a junior. Now he’s much smarter at reading defenses and he’s got this offense down like the back of his hand now. You also defensive backs like John Stavropoulos (6, 165) and Mark Amendola (5-7, 160) who are total ball hawks. From a personnel standpoint, this team has everything you could ever want in a team.
But I have seen talented teams in my day and I know first hand that doesn’t win championships alone. There’s something else going on here. This team has a humble, hardworking attitude that seems driven to do something special. “This team is really putting the work in this year.” Coach Gerry Moore says. “They are also a very close group of kids.”
“We are so motivated and focused” the QB Casolaro says. “And we really have no egos on this team. If someone makes a mistake they know they have to do better the next time. No one screams at each other. We don’t need to because we know we all want to get it right. We are all working really hard. We train at the gym before practice. We just know it is going to take a lot and we are doing everything we can to help ourselves.”
Also, Coach Moore is totally due to join the ranks of state championship coaches. He hasn’t had less than a .500 record at the playoff cutoff since taking over in 2010. His record speaks for itself. Plus he’s been dedicated to this Hornet team for years as an assistant before taking over as the top man.
Here’s the deal on how things should play out. HP has a VERY tough regular season schedule. They’ll have to be focused every play of every game. Once they get past that and into the state tournament, they’ll have to go up against a very tough North 2, Group 2 section. There they’ll find the likes of Madison who is coming off a state title, Rutherford who lost to Madison in the title game and is returning a ton of starters, Lenape Valley who is completely loaded as well and Mountain Lakes who is, well, Mountain Lakes.
Pulling this thing off will be a massive undertaking. And last thing Coach Moore wants to say is the “R” word (ring). “We do not tell our players that we are going to win a state championship. There is a lot of things that come way before that.” But the serious mood of this camp says the goal here is for this team is to walk through that tunnel at MetLife in front of thousands of their fans.
The vibe in Hornet Nation says this is their year. It looks like they have all of the pieces. Getting to the semi’s last year didn’t seem to satisfy their thirst. These players know better than any that no matter how well they do this season, if they fall short, memories of their season will fade quickly and the stories of Franco, Fillipone and Won Kyu Rim will quickly override any success they had.
My prediction is these 2016 Hanover Park players are the team that creates a new legacy. Let’s do this Hornets!
9/9 @ Cedar Grove
9/16 Newark Central
9/23 @ Mountain Lakes
9/30 @ Dover
10/29 @ Madison
11/4 West Essex