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Vitals

Coach: Darrell Fusco
Year on the Job: 7th
Home Field: Turf
2015 Record: 6-4
2016 Nemesis: Madison

Players

Freakishly Talented: Opposing defenses will need to stay laser focused on senior fullback Nick Palazzi (5-7, 165). His low center of gravity allows him to put his head down to run over a linebacker and he has the speed to beat you down the sideline.
Where’s the Beef: At 6 foot, 175-pounds senior guard Kevin O’Connor not your typical 275-pound side of beef. Don’t let that fool you. He’s a combination of technique, strength and pure power who thrives on decleating defensive ends in this Wing-T O.
Emotional Leader: Senior wideout/defensive back Ben Adams (6-2, 180) is a throwback, playmaker type with a ton of athletic ability. When he starts getting fired up on the field, everyone rallies around him.
Will be a Household Name: Remember stud quarterback Griffen Baker? How can you forget, he just graduated. Well his younger bro Jack Baker is a 6-4, 190-pound sophomore phenom QB himself. The younger plan’s to break big brothers records before the ink dries.
Beast Watch: It makes Jack Baker’s job of breaking passing records easier when you have a 6-4, 190-pound fellow sophomore receiver in Jake Schicke who runs like a gazzelle and catches everything you through at him – and who also wants to break his own big brothers records (Jimmy Schicke who just graduated as well).

2016 Prediction

Just seeing the orange helmets with the blue buffalo logo and the letters “H-E-R-D” written in front of it just gives chills down the spine of most opponents. There is so much winning tradition and football history in this program it brings an intimating factor that many teams don’t have the luxury of enjoying.

Sophomore QB Jack Baker looks down field to find an open receiver during an August practice (photo by Georgi Muha).

Sophomore QB Jack Baker looks down field to find an open receiver during an August practice (photo by Georgi Muha).

My nephew tells a story of when he was a freshman defensive tackle on Whippany Park several years ago, when his coach was in the locker room amping the Wildcats up with a pregame speech before they took on the Herd. He said they came out of the locker room so psyched they were ready to storm the beach of Normandy. But then  a few minutes later as they stood on the field to watch the Moutain Lakes announcer introduce the Herd players, a person in a full out Native American costume, with feathered war bonnet on his head, face paint and everything, came sprinting out to the field on a white horse and threw a lance into the middle of the 50-yard-line at which the crowd erupted.

There will be a lot of younger guys stepping into some big roles for the Herd in 2016 (photo by Georgi Muha).

There will be a lot of younger guys stepping into some big roles for the Herd in 2016 (photo by Georgi Muha).

My nephew said whatever feeling his team had after the pregame speech in the locker room quickly disappeared and was replaced with sheer terror. “I had never had two emotions at two extremes in such a short amount of time as I did in that moment” my nephew jokes about it now. “They ended up beating us by about 50-points that day.” That’s Mountain Lakes folks!

However, you don’t win based because you have some cool pre-game rituals. You need dedicated players, good execution and a will to win. These are all ingredients that the 2016 Herd have.

Coach Fusco rallies his team before an early practice in August (photo by Georgi Muha).

Coach Fusco rallies his team before an early practice in August (photo by Georgi Muha).

The trick for this team will be first to navigate a tough schedule. The heart of their schedule is going to be treacherous because they fact Hanover Park, Lenape Valley and Madison right in a row and all three of those teams look VERY good.

Getting through the regular season schedule is only part of the challenge. Many of the teams on their regular schedule are also in their state playoff section. So losses to these opponents can really effect Mountain Lakes chances of getting into the Dance. But if the Herd gets into the postseason they’ll likely have to face these same foes again.

Mountain Lakes relies on a quick paced no-huddle offense to keep defenses on their heels (photo by George Muha).

Mountain Lakes relies on a quick paced no-huddle offense to keep defenses on their heels (photo by George Muha).

Can the 2016 Herd win a state championship in 2016? Of course, it’s Mountain Lakes we’re talking about. Getting to the playoffs is going to be the hard part for everyone on this schedule.  I believe this team has it in them.

2016 Schedule

9/9 @ Parsippany
9/16 Lincoln
9/23 Hanover Park
9/30 @ Lenape Valley
10/7 Madison
10/15 @ Whippany Park
10/21 @ Caldwell
10/28 West Side
11/4 @ Mahwah

2016 Roster

#NAMEGRADEHT/WTPOSITION
11ALEC RATCHFORD116'2/185HB/CB
12JACK BAKER106'4" / 190QB
13JASON LUZZI105'11"/195HB/LB
15MICHAEL VERZALENO115'10/180QB
16BEN ADAMS126'2"/180 SE/CB
17BRANDON MCNULTY115'9"/145SE/CB
20SPENCER GOODBAR105'9"/135HB/S
21JAKE SCHICKE106'4"/190SE
22DREW BRENNFLECK105'11"/170SE/CB/K
24BRIAN LUZZI106'1"/150SE/CB
27NEIL MURPHY115'8" /160FB/LB
28CAMERON PARSA105'9"/140SE/S
31JAKE MARSHALL116'3"/150SE/S
32WILL CINNAMOND115'8"/140HB/CB
33COLLIN POND125'10"/170HB/LB
34FRANK PATRACUOLLA115'11"/200FB/LB
35NICK PALAZZI125'7"/165FB/CB
37JAKE ROSSETTO125'7"/150HB/CB
40DENEYS VANDERMERWE105'7"/130HB/CB
42MATT PALAZZI105'7"/150HB/LB
44MISSION KERCHER105'11"/170 FB / LB
47MATT BARKAUSKAS115'9"/175FB/LB
50BENJI WUERSCH125'10"/155G/LB
51AJ KLOZA115'11"/200G/LB
52BOBBY VOLOSIN125'10"/210G/DE
54RYAN HATTON115'9"/170G/LB
55MILES HARRIS-HOHNE126'2"/200T/LB
56HOWARD HWANG105'8" / 170G/LB
59TOMMY WYCISKALA115'10"/225T/DE
61KEVIN O'CONNOR126'/175G/DE
62DANYAL ZUBERI125'9"/190T/DE
65ALEX SOWA115'9"/195G/DE
66CONRAD CHRIST106'2"/230T/NG
68JOHN WAGGONER105'7"/160C/LB
69WILL WESTENBERGER125'9"/185C/DE
71DAN GOETZ116'1"/200T/DE
72ALEKSANDER AASAMAA106'3"/175T/DE
74HENRY TULLY116'/205T/DE
75ANDREW DONOHUE116'2"/250T/NG
76PAUL BOERSTOEL116'2"/200T/DE
78BRENDAN RODGERS105'6"/195C/NG
82GUS MORFOGEN106'2"/175TE/LB
85CIARAN STEPHENS116'1"/200TE/DE

George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.

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  1. Pingback: The 2016 Ultimate Guide to Preseason Football in Morris-Sussex – Morris Sussex Sports

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