The Bergen Catholic senior class is well aware of the storied history of the Crusader football program. Every day the players walk by the trophy cases in the BC hallway, the 16 state championship trophies challenging them to be the ones to add to the illustrious collection for the first time in 6 years. A championship is the ultimate goal for this Class of 2011, but the collective group of seniors understand that they can also create a legacy for their group starting with Saturday's game: a legacy of perfection.
The last undefeated team at Bergen Catholic was the historic 1998 squad, a team that went 12-0, had no opponent finish within 21 points of them all season long, and finished their championship season with a blowout victory over rival St. Joseph Regional before a huge high school crowd at Giants Stadium. The 1998 team is immortalized with their team photo on a Cheerios box that is placed alongside their state championship trophy in BC's main trophy case. That Crusader team is always brought up when fans debate the Garden State's best football teams in history, and their legend seems to grow each year.
The 1998 BC squad and the class of 1999 has become the group that every Crusader class strives to emulate when they first enter the hallways in Oradell. There is even a huge rock that rests outside the Saingas Center at the bottom of the main stairs that sits as a testament to the Class of 1999, a class that went undefeated at all levels during their time as Crusaders, and a class that unearthed the rock from their practice field as lowly freshmen. They proved themselves worthy on the field and in the classroom, and their legacy of greatness will never be forgotten. Every class is reminded of their dominance when they go to practice, and every class fights for a chance to be placed in that esteemed company.
The Class of 2011 wants to do something that the last 11 senior classes could not accomplish in Oradell -- to complete a perfect season.
Throughout the preseason, one after another, each player repeated aloud their goal of 12-0 when questioned about their season expectations. This Crusader senior class has beaten Don Bosco at other levels of the football program in recent seasons, and while they have a healthy respect for the Ironmen's recent accomplishments at the varsity level, they certainly do not fear their rivals. They gained a new level of confidence from their neophyte head coach, who brings a familiarity with perfection with him to Oradell.
Once Nunzio Campanile was hired as BC's new coach last February, he reached out immediately to members of the Bergen Catholic football alumni family, a group that had been splintered in recent years, with many members deciding to steer clear of Crusader Stadium, and even some alumni electing to send their sons to BC's arch rivals rather than have them play for their alma mater. With a message of renewal and change, many former BC players returned to Crusader Stadium and have been encouraged to extol their football wisdom on the current Red & Gold gridiron athletes, alumni which include members of perfect championship teams, including 1999.
The class of 2011 have absorbed the lessons like sponges, have cherished the amazing stories, and have become transfixed with the idea of ultimate glory, of unquestioned dominance, of a perfect record at the end of a season in December. This matchup with Don Bosco will not decide a state championship, or even cement playoff seeding as it is only Week 4. This regular season game though means the world to the seniors at BC, because this select group of players have seen three other classes leave Bergen Catholic without any championship rings on their fingers, and without any chance to create a legacy of perfection at BC.
BC's seniors have been reminded by their coaches every practice that perfection is attainable, that their destiny and legacy is in their own hands. Every time they slack off, they are quickly reminded of the team's record the last couple of seasons, records that were far from perfect and did not end in championships. Saturday's game will decide whether BC's senior class has the chance to be mentioned in the pantheon of all-time great Crusader teams.
When focusing of the goal of perfection for this BC senior class, I think back to tremendous quote attributed to Odessa Permian's legendary head coach Gary Gaines in both the novel and movie Friday Night Lights. In a stirring moment during their state playoff game he tells his players the following when it comes to the idea of perfection as a team:
"Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn't one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman - you're perfect."
This Bergen Catholic senior class, one of the tightest groups in recent history at BC, has a chance to make a case for their legacy starting on Saturday. With a loss, the Crusaders can still finish as a championship team, but with a win, these Crusaders can finish as an all-time great team. A perfect team.
Dan Long graduated from Bergen Catholic in 2003 where he was the Sports Director of BCTV and coined the immortal phrase "Crusader Crazies" for the raucous BC student section. He is currently the radio voice of the Bergen Catholic football, the founder of DL Sports Media, and a weekly contributor to BergenCatholicFootball.com.
On Saturday afternoon another Pennsylvania opponent sauntered into Crusader Stadium with heads held high and chests puffed out awaiting a clash with the Bergen Catholic Crusaders. For a second straight week, a Pennsylvania opponent left Oradell with heads hanging low and shoulders sulking. This weekend's victim was the Malvern Prep Friars after the Crusaders used a dominant second-half performance en route to an easy 34-7 victory for the Red & Gold in front of yet another large home crowd.
Tanner McEvoy played the part of maestro for the BC offense, and boy did he make great music. McEvoy dazzled onlookers with his exceptional play, having a hand in all five of Bergen Catholic's touchdowns, as he rushed for 3 scores and threw for 2 others.
BC did not get out to the fast start they had in Week 1 and had to punt the ball away after picking up one initial first down. After pinning Malvern Prep inside their own 5-yard line, the Crusader defense endured a terrible missed call on a 35-yard pass completion where the ball clearly bounced off the turf and was scooped in by a Prep receiver, only to be ruled a catch on the field. I guess the inordinate amount of black rubber pellets jumping up from the turf was not a good enough indicator for the official to rule an incompletion. Despite that long completion, BC's defense quickly forced a punt and got the ball back into the hands of a hungry offensive unit that was still trying to find its mojo.
The Crusaders began to march down the field behind a balanced attack of Karl Bostick runs and Tanner McEvoy passes to Cam Dickerson and Ryan Finkel. The drive eventually was capped off with a perfectly placed pass to the back right corner of the endzone where sophomore John Tsimis hauled in the touchdown catch, tapping one foot down in bounds before rolling out in the shadow of the BC scoreboard. Tsimis's catch gave BC an early 7-0 lead, and an energized Crusader defensive unit returned to the field to compete against the Malvern Prep Wing T offense. The defense again forced a Friar punt, and gave its offense a short field to work with near the end of the first quarter.
The red-clad Crusaders, delighted their sun-drenched home crowd with another sustained offensive drive that ended with a visit to the endzone, this time by the senior quarterback himself, as a designed QB draw play led McEvoy into the endzone untouched for his first rushing score of the game and of the young season. Ryan Rose's extra point extended the home team's lead to 14-0 seconds into the start of the 2nd quarter. While it looked like BC was well on its way to a cakewalk victory, Malvern Prep began to display its own grittiness and talent on offense, led by their junior quarterback Tommy Ruemer.
As BC was able to take away the potent running attack from the Friars, Ruemer showed fans why he had thrown for a school record 313 yards the week before in a Friar loss. In the waning minutes of the first half, after yet another BC defensive penalty (this time a pass interference call) sustained a Malvern Prep drive, Ruemer was able to connect on two long passes to Joe Rava and Mike Bolte, the latter completion resulting in a Friar touchdown.
With plenty of time in the pocket, Ruemer lofted a soft pass to the front of the endzone, creating a jump ball situation for the BC secondary. Safety Shutang Mungwa intercepted the pass with his hands above his head and momentum taking him backwards into his own endzone. The ensuing play is unclear, as to whether Malvern Prep's Mike Bolte wrestled the ball away from Mungwa or if he had just grabbed onto the ball and created a simultaneous possession situation. In the latter case, the tie goes to the wide receiver. Either way, the Friars were awarded a touchdown and were no doubt feeling confident against their Garden State hosts, down just 14-7.
With only 5 seconds left until halftime, BC tried one last pass attempt to put points on the board before adjourning to their locker room, but instead saw their first turnover of the season as McEvoy's bullet pass into coverage was picked off by Joe Nilan. As BC's offensive linemen tackled Nilan down to the turf to end the first half, McEvoy found himself blocked out of bounds and engulfed in a pile of Malvern Prep players, who delighted in some serious chatter right to McEvoy's face. I don't think they were asking BC's signal caller for an autograph, but based on his performance in the 2nd half, the Friars would have been wise to make that request.
For the second straight week the Crusaders came out a team possessed to start the second stanza of play. With Malvern Prep receiving the ball to start the 3rd quarter, the Crusader pass rush hurried Ruemer into his second interception of the game. Senior captain Nick La Testa had picked off Ruemer earlier in the first half, and junior Luke Cervino was the willing recipient this time.
The BC offense immediately took the field, energized and revitalized, and prepared to make a huge play through the air. McEvoy -- with plenty of time to throw due to the outstanding efforts yet again by the Bergen Catholic offensive line -- lofted a pass down the near sideline. Initially it seemed to be a little too long for his receiver, but sophomore John Tsimis, his body fully extended in mid-air as if he were diving into the ocean, made a sensational grab at the Malvern Prep 5-yard line. The Crusaders would cap off the drive when McEvoy again crossed the goal line for his second rushing touchdown of the day.
The Crusader defense -- intent on making amends for its first-half letdown score late in the 2nd quarter -- swarmed and shutdown the overmatched Wing T attack, and gave the ball back to an offense whose confidence was growing by the down. McEvoy zipped a bullet pass into the hands of the senior Cam Dickerson, who reversed field from the far sideline to the center of the field, and dragged two Friars with him into the Oradell Avenue endzone. The PAT was no good, but at that point the 27-7 lead felt safe for the Crusaders as the Friars meandered back to their sidelines following Bergen Catholic's second score of the 3rd quarter.
BC would finish their scoring on the afternoon in spectacular fashion, as McEvoy took a designed quarterback keeper 52 yards down the field for a jaw-dropping score. In the midst of his sprint down the field, McEvoy stopped on a dime, allowing one Malvern Prep player to fly past his feet, then finishing his run down the far sideline to his desired destination. With a 34-7 lead, La Testa added his second interception on defense and the defensive unit pitched a second-half shutout while also getting key performances from BC reserves who provided much-needed relief against Malvern Prep's first-team offense.
Despite the lopsided victory, Coach Campanile knows that his team has not sniffed its overall potential as a team, and must start to play a more disciplined style of football in the coming weeks. The offense has started to resemble the potent squad that dominated in preseason scrimmages, and McEvoy had his first statement performance as a Crusader QB.
Another game against a Keystone State foe, another victory for the Red & Gold.
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- BC was without the services of WR/CB Chucky Wingate for another game, as the junior is rehabbing an ankle injury he suffered at the beginning of the 1st quarter against LaSalle. Wingate is expected to play next week against Teaneck.
- Tanner McEvoy has already combined for a total of 8 touchdowns this season with his 5 passing TDs and 3 rushing scores in two contests.
- Home Cookin': With BC's first 2 wins at home to start the 2010 season, the Crusaders have improved their record at Crusader Stadium to 89-14 (86%) since the 1991 season, and 192-49-7 (77%) overall.
Dan Long graduated from Bergen Catholic in 2003 where he was the Sports Director of BCTV and coined the immortal phrase "Crusader Crazies" for the raucous BC student section. He is currently the radio voice of the Bergen Catholic football, the founder of DL Sports Media, and a weekly contributor to BergenCatholicFootball.com.
As we finish up our preparation for our first game of the year, here are some reflections on our season to date:
We began the summer with very high expectations. We knew that we had a talented group with plenty of game experience, but some things had to change for us to take the next step and get back to being a championship program. We began by setting simple, but lofty goals. The first is to "Get better everyday" and the second is to become the #1 football program in New Jersey.
In order to reach those goals we needed to change the culture of our football program. We needed a foundation that we could build our program on. We all know there are many factors that go into building a championship program, but we felt as coaches that we could not focus on all the available factors, so we chose three. These factors were issues we felt we needed to concentrate on the most in order to accomplish our goals. The three we chose were Toughness, Compete, and Accountability. We attempted to apply each of these factors to everything we did, everyday. While the real fruit of our labor will play out over the next thirteen weeks, we feel that we made tremendous progress in relation to these core elements of our program.
1. Toughness - As coaches we feel that toughness is the most fundamental element to our culture. We needed to become physically and mentally tougher everyday in order to prepare for our upcoming season. Toughness was a factor in every weight training session, conditioning session, and practice. Our goal is to make every practice harder than the toughest games so our players are prepared on game day. Our coaches are extremely demanding so our players learn to be mentally tough enough to handle the adversity that comes in a game. They are accustomed to adverse situations and are mentally tough enough to handle them.
We make sure to hit live everyday in order to be accustomed to live contact on game days. We organized three high energy, live inter-squad scrimmages. They were played on hot days with game conditions. This forced our players to push through the heat. They also were able experience the carnival atmosphere that can exist on game day. This environment forces them to learn to be tough enough to play through mistakes, rather than hang their head after a bad play. In addition to dealing with adversity they are forced to learn how to handle prosperity. They cannot be satisfied with a good play, rather they need to continue to push themselves to excel.
As coaches we believe that we have a conditioned harder than any team in New Jersey. We know that there are some great teams out there, and they are all working hard. We felt that the best way to become tougher is to demand more than anyone else. We needed to challenge our players in new ways everyday. Our conditioning is not simply running, it is mental toughness training. We force our players to demand more of themselves everyday, in every way. They must push each other and battle through whatever adversity they face. When one player fails they all fail, so they learn to work together without pointing fingers, but still challenging each other to demand more. We felt that in every competition we took part in this summer we were in tremendous physical condition. That conditioning allows our players to be mentally tougher and gives our team the ability to compete harder, for a longer period of time.
2. Compete - We tell our players that competing is maximizing your ability at all times. We want to win, but more importantly we want to maximize our performance in every thing we do. We also tell our players it is about the process not the result. In other words we do not care about the score or the result, we care about whether or not we did it right. We expect to compete to the best of our ability in every rep, drill, team period, scrimmage, game, etc ... We feel that if we compete and maximize our potential the wins and losses take care of themselves. We will never accept a mediocre effort simply because it results in a win. That is not a recipe for long term success. We will never reach our goal of being the most dominant football program in New Jersey if we accept anything less than our best. The inverse is obviously true as well -- if we were to lose and still give a maximum effort type performance, we would not be happy, but we accept it and move on. We are always going to focus on our willingness to compete rather than results. Results will come.
We have numerous examples of this from our summer training. The most glaring and impressive may be Tanner McEvoy. Tanner is our quarterback and probably our most gifted athlete. Despite his high ability level he made a conscious decision to raise his level in our demanding summer conditioning program. He was never content to simply make his times. Instead he competed everyday to maximize his effort and challenge his teammates to raise their effort to match his. Many players accepted that challenge and began to hold themselves to higher standards. On the first day the times we set as coaches seemed impossible to reach, within weeks we had to create entirely new times because our players learned to compete. They began to crush what previously seemed impossible.
Other examples would be Nick La Testa and Taylor Bishop working tirelessly to overcome off-season injuries. They were examples of young men that would maximize their effort everyday, because they couldn't stand the idea of their teammates practicing without them. They were examples of how to handle adversity and overcome it. Now we look forward to tremendous seasons from our senior leaders.
Another example would be Jagger Brady, 138-pound cornerback that fearlessly throws his body around. He never allows is size to be an excuse, rather he raises his competition level to prepare himself to be the best player he can be everyday. Those and many other examples tell us that we have learned how to compete and push ourselves to be the best we can be.
3. Accountability - Our players constantly hear the mantra "Do your job". We needed to stress the importance of taking responsibility for our actions. We demand every player and every coach to take responsibility for their role on every play. That means that we look at ourselves first when something goes wrong. We have eliminated excuses. We stress that we care about those people around us so we will not let them down. We understand that in order to be leaders we need to do our job first, then hold others to those same high expectations. That means showing up everyday prepared to compete.
Two great examples of this are seniors Zach Sparber and Pat DiMase. Neither player missed a practice all summer. They compete at a high level and diligently work to get better everyday. They are a great example to the rest of our young players that are learning to adapt to our culture.
We demand accountability and film study is a great teaching tool. We watch practice film everyday. We see the mistakes we make and great players want to fix those mistakes. We believe that we have those guys. Our Inside Linebackers are great examples of this. Karl Bostick, Spencer Kulcsar, and Shane Drummond watch the tape and take the corrections to the field. They are one of our most improved units.
Our Wide Receivers are another example. They compete everyday to make sure they never miss an assignment. Cameron Dickerson, Chucky Wingate, John Tsimis, and Austin Devine are constantly being evaluated and they get better everyday because they demand excellence from themselves and each other.
All in all, the summer has been a tremendous success. We have seen these three factors have an invaluable impact on our team and the development of our culture. We believe we have the making of a championship team, but the next thirteen weeks will tell us where we stand. The implementation of this culture has been both challenging and fun. It is great to see our players become better players and better people because they have taken on the challenge of becoming both physically and mentally tougher, competing to maximize their ability, and holding themselves and their teammates accountable for their actions.
Here's to a fun, exciting, and successful 2010 football season. We look forward to your passionate support.
Defense in search of swagger
In part two of our 2010 Bergen Catholic Football Preview, Dan Long breaks down the Crusaders' defensive unit and looks at its strengths and weaknesses for the upcoming year:
One of the keys this season for Bergen Catholic is sustaining a consistent pass rush and putting constant pressure on the opposing quarterback, something that has been sorely lacking during big-time matchups in recent years. This year BC hopes to have found the right mix of athletes on the defensive line in order to win the battle in the trenches and wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
The Crusader defensive line has grown stronger with each scrimmage this summer, and is starting to believe it can be a force. The defensive ends are juniors Anthony Davanzo (6’0 205) and Hunter Kiselick (6’1 225). Both ends are fast and use their speed as an advantage when matched up with larger offensive linemen. Junior Brian Luna (5’11 200) and sophomore Ethan Fredericks (6’1 215) will be sure to see plenty of time as well, as BC will look to rotate fresh bodies into games as much as possible to sustain the pressure up front.
The defensive tackles will be Zach Sparber and junior James Horan. Sparber was moved to the defensive side of the ball this summer to go along with his left tackle duties, and his play has been stellar this preseason with several sacks, forced fumbles, and tackles for losses. Fans can expect to see sophomore Carmine Goldsack (6’2 265) and senior TC Picariello on the field at times as well at the DT spot.
For years, BC has prided itself on its tradition of producing great linebackers and the linebacking position always being the strength of its defense. For the first time in recent history, the linebacking position has become the largest question mark for the defense, and several players are being asked to step up their games in order to solidify the unit.
Senior Karl Bostick will man the middle as the Crusaders' Mike linebacker. Bostick has the size and speed to be a great linebacker, but sometimes gets lost in coverage. He will be joined inside by Spencer Kulcsar at the weakside linebacking spot. Kulcsar is an exceptional hitter and made a lot of plays in the scrimmage against St. Joe’s. He also returned an interception for a score against Roxbury. The most interesting addition to the brand new linebacking corps is Cam Dickerson, the strongside, or Sam LB. Dickerson, a one-way player last season, displays great lateral speed and is a strong tackler. He is the best of the three LB’s when it comes to dropping back into coverage.
Senior Shane Drummond, the backup at both Mike and Will, will rotate into games with the starting linebackers. Drummond, one of the leaders of the special teams units, possesses a keen game IQ, is strong against the run, and his quick reads lead to many tackles for losses. Senior Anthony LiGregni and sophomore Parker Tobia will provide time as linebacking reserves this season. This unit is fast and athletic, but may need to add more of a physical component to their play in order to consistently defend the run.
The strength of the entire defensive unit for the Crusaders will be its outstanding secondary. The Crusaders have exceptional athletes who can stuff the run as well as be lockdown defenders on the outside against wide receivers. The headliner in the secondary is senior Shutang Mungwa, a strong safety who intimidates with his hitting prowess and regularly finds his way into the backfield on blitzes and run stops. He’ll be joined by Luke Cervino, a junior transfer from Paramus Catholic who will open the season at the free safety position. Once healthy, senior Ricky Sinnig will also see plenty of playing time at the safety position along with sophomore Jon Germano.
The cornerback position is in great hands with senior Nick LaTesta and junior Chucky Wingate blanketing opposing receivers. LaTesta has a nose for the ball and is brilliant at anticipating passing routes. Wingate uses his tremendous speed to make up for any mistakes he may make, and returned a couple of interceptions for scores this summer. Sophomore John Tsimis and junior Jagger Brady will play in nickel and dime packages. Both players are ball hawks and sure tacklers. Expect teams to attempt to run more against the Crusaders' front 7 and avoid its stellar secondary.
If new BC Defensive Coordinator Angelo DeSalvo can get the expected results out of his front 7, this Crusader defense will be just fine and the team can be looking at a deep playoff run. The defense has shown a bend-but-don’t-break mentality in the preseason, giving up some long runs, or passes across the middle, but stiffens when having to play in the shadow of its own goal line. In their last scrimmage against Roxbury, the BC defense had its best effort of the summer, forcing the Gaels into 3 consecutive turnovers and shutting out their opponent.
A cause for concern may be centered on how many offensive players are also playing defense this season for the Crusaders. Will those players bring the same attention to detail to the defensive side of the field that they bring to their offensive exploits? The team has gotten into exceptional shape with their extensive conditioning, but will the two-way players fade against the better competition this season?
The final issue facing this BC defense is in regards to the mentality of the entire unit. Can this BC defense restore the swagger and confidence that was evident for so many years at Crusader Stadium with players that would run through walls and do whatever needed to be done to make sure the Crusaders won? If the players buy into the culture of toughness, competition, and accountability that Coach Campanile has been preaching to his team since he walked through the door, then just maybe a BC defense that has been derided all offseason can have the last laugh in December.
Offense has potential to be "scary good"
In the first part of our season preview of the 2010 Bergen Catholic football team, Dan Long breaks down the Crusader offensive and special teams units and highlights some of the players to watch for on that side of the ball:
Upon losing Mike Halligan to graduation, this position became the greatest area of concern for the Crusaders, as Halligan had one of the best seasons ever by a BC QB throwing for 23 touchdowns and setting the school record for passing accuracy with a 68% completion percentage. In the 2010 season, the answer at quarterback will be senior Tanner McEvoy, arguably the best athlete at the quarterbacking position in Oradell since legendary quarterback Matt LoVecchio ran the offense in the late 1990’s.
McEvoy gets to return to his dream position of quarterback, a position he played on the BC freshman team 3 years. The past two seasons on the varsity level McEvoy has been BC’s top receiver and statistically is the school’s all-time leader at the position. With new BC Head Coach Nunzio Campanile’s arrival in Oradell, he has put McEvoy in position to touch the ball every down, instead of his usual 7-9 touches that he would have gotten lined up as a receiver. The senior signal caller possesses a deadly combination of amazing agility on his running plays, and a strong arm that can easily complete 50+ yard passes to his receivers down the field.
McEvoy is a gifted athlete who will continue to work on his decision-making abilities as a quarterback where he has been prone in the preseason to force passes into coverage that led to interceptions. There is a reason why Coach Campanile has already stated that he thinks McEvoy is the best athlete he has ever coached at the quarterback position, a high honor coming from a coach who has helped produce five straight First-Team All-State quarterbacks. It is not crazy to think that McEvoy may account for close to 30 touchdowns with his passing and rushing touchdowns this season if he remains healthy.
BC has the luxury of having experienced backup quarterbacks behind McEvoy in fellow seniors Anthony LiGregni and Joe Orsini. Both quarterbacks have experience running the spread offense the last couple of seasons at the JV level at BC. LiGregni has a strong arm, while Orsini has a quick burst through the line on designed running plays. Both seniors should see time this year and were effective during their times on the field this preseason leading the offense.
BC returns two of their main backs from last season, and has the benefit of adding two additional offensive threats to their stable of tailbacks. BC will be led by senior Karl Bostick, a bruising tailback that is known for pushing piles, and added even more muscle this offseason. Bostick is a power back that also possesses breakaway speed when he reaches the second level. He will be joined by fellow senior Spencer Kulcsar who is coming off another sensational preseason. Kulcsar combines his blinding speed with a throw-back physical style that many BC fans will enjoy this fall. Kulcsar, a big play threat every time he touches the ball, and will also see time as a tight end and H-back for the Crusader offense this season.
The two newest Crusaders to the varsity squad are junior Mike Gerst and sophomore James Dawson. Gerst, the younger brother of former BC running back great Nick Gerst, displays the same lethal speed that his brother showed opponents running the ball. Once Gerst gets outside the tackles, he has a chance of not being caught on the sidelines, and thus will be BC’s biggest threat with the screen pass this season. Dawson is a transfer from Don Bosco Prep and does more of his work in-between the tackles and can bounce to the outside and finish runs with his remarkable speed. This season, Coach Campanile will have a fun time utilizing all of his various running back weapons on offense.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Arguably BC’s deepest position on the offensive side of the ball falls with the wide receiving position. The Red & Gold will be led by their star senior Cam Dickerson, who has emerged as one of the best receivers in the entire Garden State. Not only does Dickerson utilize his great size (6’3 205 lbs) against defensive backs, but he also possesses tremendous speed to finish off long receptions. Whether out-jumping cornerbacks on long balls down the field or displaying tremendous hands with patterns across the middle, Dickerson will have a chance to break all of McEvoy’s school receiving records this season.
Chucky Wingate is the highlight reel junior wideout that will have fans buzzing after every game. Wingate uses his speed and ankle-breaking moves to make big plays down the field. You wait to see how Wingate will make his first move after a catch, and then try to figure out how many yards after the catch he’ll wind up with on the play. I believe Wingate’s play-making ability will set him up for the biggest season for any of the BC offensive players this season, and he will devastate teams who pay all their attention to Dickerson on the outside.
Senior slot receiver Nick LaTesta will bring his great hands to the offensive side of the ball, having previously shown his talents on the defensive side of the ball as BC’s top cornerback. Behind LaTesta are a pair of juniors who had breakout preseasons and are ready for a lot of playing time as reliable receivers. Juniors Ryan Kelly and Ryan Finkel were stars during several scrimmages, and will give BC great athletes to throw the ball to in key third-down situations. They will thrive in the spread offense, and will do a lot of damage in the middle of the field.
Senior Jack Gallagher will play alongside Spencer Kulcsar at the tight end position. Gallagher displays great ball-catching skills, a quick burst off the line, and can block down field. He’ll be a force for the BC in the red zone.
In order to make the offense click, BC will need to rely on the play of veteran offensive line that had an outstanding preseason, and will be an athletic and powerful unit this season. The line will be anchored by senior left tackle Zach Sparber (6’3 245), who uses his great footwork and hand technique to protect McEvoy’s blindside. Pat DiMase, (6’4 230), who gained experience in spots last season as a junior, uses his athleticism to be a great blocker down the field on screen passes. Senior TC Picariello (6'2 260) moves from the center spot to right guard, a move that allows him to be aggressive downfield as well while combining efforts with DiMase. Senior Martin Scheuring (6'2 250) is the new center, and has adjusted his snapping mechanics to make the shotgun snap to McEvoy a non-issue. Junior Ryan Rebasch (6'1 230) has gotten a majority of the playing time at left guard this preseason with senior Taylor Bishop (6'1 230) rehabbing from an injury.
Once Bishop returns, Rebasch will join several other BC lineman who will provide much needed depth on the line. Senior Al Bruno brings experience to the reserve unit, having started several games at center last season. Juniors Anthony Davanzo, James Horan, and Michael Radespiel will get playing time as well for an offensive line group that all look to be in tremendous shape due to the grueling conditioning program that Coach Campanile has brought to the program.
Last season, BC relied on Mike Halligan to be their entire special teams unit as the kicker and punter. This year, BC will not have that luxury, and will lean on the group efforts of several players. Junior Austin Devine will be the punter and has displayed a strong leg this summer that might also lead to kickoff responsibilities as well. Devine will compete with junior Zach Kovalovsky and sophomore Ryan Rose to be the placekicker for field goals and extra points.
Chucky Wingate will be the main kickoff and punt returner. Last year Wingate set the school record for the longest kickoff return for a TD when he ran one back 92 yards against Bergen Tech. Mike Gerst will also see time as a return man, and his great speed and acceleration will be something to see in the open field.
The offensive unit will be the strongest weapon for the Crusaders and has potential to be one of the best offenses in BC football history. Add in Nunzio Campanile’s reputation and proven track record as an offensive guru, and fans can expect to see the Crusaders put up big numbers on the scoreboard this year, even surpassing the 38 points-per-game the offense scored last season.