Jefferson determined to retool for 2021 season

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Jefferson’s football team are determined to build on their recent streak of success.

Last season Jefferson finished 5-2 and was second to Sparta in the Patriot Blue division of the North Jersey Super Football Conference. The arrival marked the first time since 2014 that the Falcons had back-to-back winning seasons.

Over the past decade, Jefferson has only seen three losing seasons, but they’ve also had two .500 seasons. This upcoming campaign aims to extend their recent rise after also closing with a 7-3 record in 2019.

“You want to start building momentum,” Falcons coach Jerry Venturino said. “Any program will tell you that it wants to get to the part where you don’t rebuild, you reload. I think we were in a bit of a slow snowball effect with that.”

Jefferson quarterback Erik Garv tries to avoid Montville linemen in the first half of a football game at Jefferson Township High School on November 20, 2020. Alexandra Pais / For the Daily Record

There should be a lot of intrigue around Jefferson this season after senior quarterback Peter Delaportas, a Boston College entry, returns to his home district of Pope John at the end of the school year. He will compete with returning starter Erik Garv for the team’s starting position.

Delaportas could give the team their first true Division I quarterback since Gavin McCarney, who helped lead the program to a state title as a junior in 2008 before setting the program’s 19 records as a junior. that Colgate quarterback.

“As a quarterback myself and as a quarterback coach in this program, it’s good to have all these guys in the quarterback room,” Venturino said. “They love to compete against each other, but at the same time, they encourage and help each other through the process. We are delighted with that.”

The Falcons also bring back a wealth of experience on the offensive and defensive lines, led by seniors Dylan Patscher, Justin Eisele and Rory Coyle.

Patscher and Eisele started for the Falcons over the past two seasons. Patscher led the team with 64 tackles last season, while Eisele had 30 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Coyle led the team with 3.5 sacks and added 44 tackles.

Tradition

Jefferson quarterback Gavin McCarney throws a pass against West Essex in the North 1, Group 2 Championship game on December 5, 2008, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

The Falcons likely would have made their second consecutive trip to the State Tournament last year had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

This season, Jefferson will look to make it through the first round of the State Tournament for the first time since 2008 when he won the Championship North 1, Group 2.

Jefferson has two other state titles, coming in consecutive seasons in 1986 and 1987.

The Falcons have fallen in the quarterfinals in their last four appearances.

They last won a division title in 2013 when they won the NJAC Freedom Division, adding to Sussex County’s interscholastic titles in 2008, 1993 and 1986.

The challenge

Jefferson's head coach Jerry Venturino walks to the sideline during the first half of a football game against Montville at Jefferson Township High School on November 20, 2020. Alexandra Pais / For the Daily Record

As the Falcons return from the experience under center to Delaportas or Garv, they must make up for the production of three-year-old starting running back Michael Gould and two-year-old starting wide receiver Caleb Rippey.

Gould ran for 667 yards and eight touchdowns last season, while Rippey caught 17 passes for 390 yards and three scores in seven games last season.

A number of players will be looking to fill that void for the Falcons, with Theo Fischer showing off his sprint athleticism with quarterback reps last season and junior Jason Eisele making 18 catches, a team-high last season. .

Venturino also said senior Michael Bencievengo had the tools to take the field further last season but found himself stuck behind Gould.

“I think every year the biggest challenge for each team would be what is your identity? Said Venturino. “You can do everything in T-shirts and shorts all through June and July, but you have to put on the protections and you have to see how physical you are going to be as an offensive unit up front, starting with the line. offensive. “

With a talented center quarterback, the Falcons are poised to create a dynamic offense this season.

Expectations

Blaine Franc of Montville is shot down by Rory Coyle of Jefferson in the first half of a football game at Jefferson Township High School on November 20, 2020. Alexandra Pais / For the Daily Record

The Falcons want to take another step forward this season and believe they have what it takes to reach the North 1, Group 3 tournament again.

Last season, Jefferson’s success started on the defensive end of the ball as they kept their opponents at five points per game in their five wins. But their shortcomings met with dynamic spreading attacks from Sparta and Mount Olive, where they gave up 83 combined points in a pair of losses.

Venturino knows these are the types of opponents that are going to prevent him from achieving their goals and be prepared for that expectation during the offseason. A veteran secondary who includes Fischer and Jason Eisele could help bolster that defense.

“We’ve spent a lot of time this offseason focusing on our defensive spread plans and how we’re going to attack and approach,” said Venturino. “When you look at these two teams, both had very good quarterbacks. We are looking back and we have to improve.”

A successful season might hinge on the Falcons’ mid-term performance as they face tough opponents at Sparta, Newton, Morris Hills and Parsippany Hills in consecutive weeks.

2021 calendar

September 3: vs. Mendham, 6:30 p.m.

September 11th : at Chatham, 2 p.m.

September 17: against Sparta, 6.30 p.m.

September 24: at Newton, 7 p.m.

October 1st : vs. Morris Hills, 6:30 p.m.

To be determined : in Parsippany Hills

October 15: vs Montville, 6:30 p.m.

October 22: at Kittatinny, 7 p.m.

October 29: against Vernon, 6:30 p.m.


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