Coach: Kevin Hennelly
Year on the Job: 20th
Staff: Barry Buchanan, Henry Frayne, Kevin Karcich, Sean Morris, Robert Goodwin, Matt Wehrhan and Jeff DiLollo
Home Field: Grass
2015 Record: 7-3
2016 Nemesis: Morris Knolls
Freakishly Talented: Senior runningback Cole Draghi (5-7, 165) has real-deal speed and all of the athleticism you want in a skill player. Opposing players will have a hard time with his how fast he hits the hole after he gets a hand-off. He’s already 8-yards down the field before you even know who has the ball.
Where’s the Beef: There is no hiding the fact that senior Taylor Parkinson-Gee (6-2, 260) has the beef. With a punishing first step, TPG takes away any opposing defensive line threat.
Will be a Household Name: No linemen seem to get a lot of press but people will get to know 6-1, 235-pound senior guard Erik Henwood. Henwood is built like a college tight end and brings an athleticism to this offensive line. Runningback Draghi will be riding Henwood’s tail until he gets far enough into the defensive backfield before he makes his move. These two will account for a lot of yards together.
Beast Watch: Opposing linebackers will hate it when senior Jake Congdon (5-11, 180) takes the field because when he gets the ball he seems to look for someone’s chest to put his helmet in.
It has taken several years but I finally have Coach Kevin Hennelly figured out. It doesn’t matter if he has Michael Burton (Detroit Lions fullback and former WMC captain) or other All State players on his team, our preseason conversations are always the same. “I am not sure how we’ll be”, “we lost a lot of players to graduation”, “I don’t think know if we’ll be as good as last year”, “we’re young”, are some of the things that he’s said to me in the same years he’s won a state championships. Okay coach, I am sure you have a bridge to sell me too.
Honestly, that is typical jargon I get from a lot of coaches. But you can’t believe it from the most successful active coach in Morris Sussex who makes it to the playoffs every year and has more state championship rings than fingers. So I, and everyone else, in Wolfpack Nation knows that come Week 1 he and his football team will be ready to battle it out with a high octane, in-your-face kind of energy.
Skill-wise there is no issue here. Draghi and Congdon will be the grinders in the running game with senior Zach Meister and junior Bryce Sokolowski adding to the offensive output. Senior QB Ryan Finley will be the field general with targets Peter Taylor, Johnny Radossich and Michael Egan giving the Wolfpack down-the-field targets.
Henwood and Parkinson-Gee aren’t the only ones upfront. In fact, this offensive line is shaping up nicely with Tom Pellegrino, Rourke Colligan and PJ Wright. This is a strong, athletic group which is exactly the type of line Hennelly needs to run his run-heavy offense.
Navigating the schedule won’t be easy because opposing teams are good so there won’t be any easy weeks. It looks like every game will be a dog fight. But last season looked the same but Hennelly and company kept opposing offenses to 7-points or less in seven different contests.
Here’s the bottom line – West Morris is good every year. Every year new players step up. This year will be no different. Hennelly averages a state championship about every four years. The last time he won it all was in 2012. You do the math.
9/9 @ Par Hills
9/16 West Essex
9/24 @ Morristown
9/30 Mount Olive
10/7 @ Randolph
10/14 Morris Knolls
10/22 @ Sparta
10/29 @ Mendham