Coach: John Hack
Year on the Job: 2nd
Home Field: Turf
2015 Record: 5-5
2016 Nemesis: Butler
Freakishly Talented: Junior Devonne Swan is the guy who can do it all. He’s a big, durable runningback who can grind out the tough yards as well as beat you in the open field.
Where’s the Beef: Senior OL/DL Zack Sieb is a big athletic player who has the strength to knock down an entire line by himself. Sieb will create a lot of havoc this season.
Emotional Leader: When senior G/DE TJ Bohm get’s fired up, the entire team follows suit. The problem for opponents is that he starts to get intense as soon as he puts his helmet on.
Will be a Household Name: Senior WR/DB Bryan Smilek is poised to have a breakout season. He’s the kind of guy who puts a ton of effort into everything he does.
Beast Watch: Junior safety Tom Mack is a Ronnie Lott type who hangs around center field waiting to pop anything in sight. He’s going to be a fun guy for Crusader Nation to root for.
Everybody is talking about the good energy coming from second year coach John Hack’s program. “I went to watch Morris Catholic’s scrimmage the other day because I like what Coach Hack is doing over there,” Newton coach Matt Parzero told me. Newton doesn’t even play Morris Catholic. You know you are doing something special when random coaches are watching you practice.
This is not by accident. Heading into his second season as head man, Hack is the real deal and just the perfect fit for this parochial team. He brings a ton of good energy, a history of winning and culture centered around sound ethics…all of which he brought from his time at Immaculata.
Coaches coach and players play and this team is built with a ton of real football players. Along with the guys mentioned above, there are many other guys who be key contributors. Senior FB Blaise Huresky, junior RB/LB Joe Onorati and junior TE/LB Joe Riotto are all real deal players who bring different football skills to the table. There is even a lot of depth at quarterback between junior Yhylmoni Fable and freshman Nasir Clerk.
Navigating this schedule will be the trick because it is loaded booby traps. There are some opponents who will push the Crusaders to their limits. There are other opponents who might appear to be easier to get past but can sting them if they don’t take them seriously.
With all that being said, I really like Coach Hack’s chances of out bidding his 5-5 first year record. Can they make it the MetLife and be playing in December? Sure, why not? But there is a lot of football to be played first. Gaining confidence along the way will be the key in helping that cause.
9/9 Whippany Park
9/16 @ Hudson Catholic
9/30 @ Hopatcong
10/15 St. Anthony
10/22 @ Immaculate Conception
10/29 Newark Academy
11/5 @ Sussex Tech
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