Coach: Rick DeBonta
Year on the Job: 1st
Staff: Ian Schwindel, Keith Runne, Brady Mahar, Mickey Norton, Matt Testa, Joe LaBrasio, Rick Crescente, Matt Cherici and Andrew Crozier.
Home Field: Turf
2015 Record: 2-8
2016 Nemesis: Vernon
Freakishly Talented: Rarely do teams like to put their quarterback on defense. But when you have someone as talented as senior Mike Trezza (5-9, 155) you stick him right in the middle at linebacker because he’s just that good.
Where’s the Beef: Look no further than OT/NG than 6-1, 300-pound Parker Fox if you are looking for the beef. What’s scary is that his footwork and hand technique are among the best in the business. This kid is a nightmare for opposing linemen.
Emotional Leader: This whole team has a lot of passion and emotion, you feel it almost immediately. It looks like it starts with Trezza and Fox but permeates throughout the whole team.
Will be a Household Name: Senior safety Tyler Weiss (6, 177) is the center fielder on the team who loves to pop opponents who dare to run routes in front of him. The Montville announcer will be saying his name the most.
Beast Watch: I literally can’t wait until they let defensive lineman Ty “Typhoon” Teresa (5-9, 235-pound) out of his cage. Teresa was a Pop Warner phenom who stopped playing after his freshman year because football was apparently getting in the way of his weight training schedule because since then he put on 65-pounds of pure lean muscle and athleticism. Trust me, opposing coaches will be double and triple teaming him and it will won’t be enough.
This Montville team has the makings of a storyline that combines The Bad News Bears, The Sandlot and Rudy all wrapped up in one. If there’s a Morris Sussex team you can’t help to root for its going to be the Montville Mustangs.
Over the last five seasons Montville has gone 8-42. When you have that much losing it becomes an elephant in the room. Players stop coming out for the team, the marching band schedules other events on game days and even player parents make up excuses why they can’t watch their own kids play.
I am telling you that this season there is a much different energy going on in the Montville camp. Long time assistant Rick DeBonta takes over at head man. DeBonta is a high energy guy who is backed up by a tremendous staff of assistants and coordinators. “I have the best assistants around. We are so in-tune with each other and love to have fun,” DeBonta says about his first-year staff.
DeBonta isn’t lying, he does have a great staff. Offensive coordinator Ian Schwindel is as creative as they come and a key cog in the coaching staff. “When I got the job offer, I reached out to this staff because I wouldn’t be able to do it without these guys.”
That is only part of the script. Players win football games and the part of this feel-good film are the rag-tag group of players who have assembled to create what appears to be a team that looks like they are ready to compete at a high level. Okay, they are not as rag-taggy at all actually. But coming from such a string of losing, it’s a fun narrative.
Along with Fox, Trezza, Teresa and Weiss, there are a bunch of other characters that will be major contributors. Seniors TE/LB Matt Burke (6-2, 200), RB/CB Jason Archer (5-8, 170), WR/CB Dom Caccavella (5-10, 160) are all program guys who have stuck it out through the tough years for their time in the limelight. Junior receiver Anthony Manna is a play maker type who comes up big in tough situations. And super sophomores Alex Khalaf, a 6-1, 196-pound sophomore tackle and Grant Shine (5-7, 161), a shifty receiver, will be mainstays on this squad.
My favorite part of this team is the defensive line. Weiss, Trezza, Archer and Burke love to hit. But their opportunities will likely be far and few between because of how Fox and Teresa can prevent things from developing up front.
Teresa will bring a violent Tasmanian Devil style and will live in the backfield of opposing offenses. I see this throwback guy whipping quarterbacks and runningbacks like rag dolls a la Dick Butkus. If skill players decide to run to the other side of the field they’ll be greeted by Fox’s House of Pancakes and will be flattened.
Of course Montville needs to deliver on all of the hype I’m selling. But trust me, this squad has all of the ingredients to do something special. We cover 37 teams and sometimes you just get a feeling that there is something big going on. Do not sleep on Mustang Nation this season.
9/9 @ Vernon
9/23 @ West Milford
10/1 @ High Point
10/21 @ Pequannock
10/29 @ Morris Hills