When most people think about the most wonderful time of the year, a huge Thanksgiving meal, Christmas cookies, and a lot of rest might come to mind. As the holidays creep in and Winter break approaches, the Jefferson Township High School wrestling team has anything but time off, and the holiday sweets are starting to dwindle down. Entering his fourteenth season as head coach at JTHS, Mr. Matthew Moscatello recently voiced his hope for this upcoming 2018 season. Interviewed by one of his very own Varsity statisticians, Moscatello was eager to give a concrete preview into the upcoming matches and tournaments.
As mats were rolled out and headgears were strapped on, the JTHS wrestling program did not hesitate to start off with high intensity in week one of practice. With much to cover before the season unravels, the team has already began physically along with mentally straining conditioning, including a few six a.m. morning sessions thrown in before a whole school day. Excitement and enthusiasm always ignites the wrestling room in the first week, according to Coach Moscatello or “Musket” (how he is affectionately known as). He notes his willingness to work with any inexperienced weight classes, specifically the upper weights, where guys are looking to improve their skills.
Based on the fact that Jefferson had to say goodbye to over a dozen seniors last year, including powerhouse Shane Connolly (who now wrestles D1 for West Virginia University), JTHS wrestling has left themselves with many abandoned spots to fill, especially 285 lbs, deserted by Jake Carnevale. When it comes to making up the overall 50 pins and 300 team points that 2018 Seniors Bobby Ortense and Connolly left for Jefferson, Moscatello anticipates great things from his new class of Seniors.
High Point Regional High School, known for their stupendous wrestling program, tends to always face Jefferson Township in sectional finals, evidently these past two years. Tables have now turned being that HPRHS is going to be making an early appearance in Jefferson’s regular season this year. The biggest twist? The two, the High Point Wildcats and the Jefferson Falcons will claw at it in “J-Town’s” home nest, a different setting for both teams. While this match will be a nail-biting competition to watch, both towns will have a lot to get done in terms of preparation. Moscatello admits that he is ecstatic for the opportunity for a home match because a different environment will hopefully lead to a better vibe for the boys. He elaborates by stating, “It will be nice to see how we can compete when the volume’s not turned up so high.”
This 2018-2019 season looks like it is going to be a fresh start for JTHS wrestling, considering their schedule is different from previous years, especially without their usual close rival, Pope John Regional High School. When asked about their anticipation to see some new faces including schools like Garfield and Old Tappan, Coach Moscatello went on to explain, “There’s some new teams but ultimately we have a new league, new district, and new region. Basically, we are going into ‘unchartered waters’ during the most important part of the season.” Throughout the interview, Moscatello consistently highlights the fact that results will not show without the needed work ethic and with that, he abides to the “tradition of toughness and winning horsepower to get the job done.” With this being said, the Falcons are determined to devote hard hours into the wrestling room and aspire to achieve great things, hopefully even a district title, as Moscatello confidently hinted at.
While any wrestling match can be crucial to an overall team score, the middle weight classes such as 132, 145, 152, and even 160 are competitive weights with the most versatile wrestlers. Luckily, JTHS is secure in their spots, especially being that a majority of them are occupied by four-year starting Varsity Seniors. After inquiring about key wrestlers for this season, solely based on a coaching perspective, Moscatello shined positive spotlights on Seniors Bobby Ferucci and Ryan Tripodi, along with 2017 state-qualifier, Justin Randzio, who he believes will all do great things for his program before they depart high school. Fresh faces are always beneficial, and younger wrestlers such as Sophomore, Austin Jack and Freshman, Thomas Verrone are leaving an impressive mark on the coaching staff as they are seen “stepping up.” Though Thomas Verrone looks to permanently hold a Varsity position, Moscatello explains that there are a couple other Freshmen with weight classes that do not have a lot of depth. With that, he admits that he will not be surprised if they fill some Varsity weights by the end of the season.
It was noted that before last year’s 2017-2018 wrestling season, Coach Moscatello defined the boys as having an enormous amount of “potential” and based off of last season’s results, he made sure they carried that word on their back. After questioned about this year’s new word or phrase, Moscatello answered clearly when reiterating the term “uncharted waters” because of how unfamiliar the matchups will be.
Capping off the interview and justifying why it is he takes so much pride in his program, Moscatello notes, “It’s going to be new for everybody but like I said, us having the nine or ten Seniors that we do, it’s going to help. We wrestled in tough regions, tough sections and tough leagues in the past. So it’s not going to be any tougher, it’s just going to be different.” With the holidays just around the corner, the Jefferson Township wrestling program has a lot of hard to work to give in order to receive rewarding titles, especially by laying off on the cookies (at least before weigh-ins).