Charlie Voorhees would be the first one to tell anyone that his Secaucus High School football team didn’t exactly set the world on fire in 2012.
“It was a hard one to go through,” said Voorhees, the veteran head coach of the Patriots, of his team’s 4-6 campaign a year ago. “Seven of our 10 games were against playoff teams. It had to be the toughest schedule we ever had. Nothing about football is easy. We have to work to get our success.”
The Patriots had qualified for the NJSIAA state playoffs in each of the previous 10 seasons, so not being in the postseason party definitely became a bitter pill for Voorhees and the Patriots to swallow.
“The players know now that it takes a lot more than it ever did to make the states,” Voorhees said. “It’s not an easy task at all. We have to work for everything. We learned valuable lessons last year, the coaches and the players. We think now we got them going in the right direction.”
Sophomore Naryan Iyer (5-10, 165) inherits the starting quarterback position.
“He played point guard on the basketball team last year as a freshman,” Voorhees said. “I see a lot of similarity between being a point guard and being a quarterback. He’s a very smooth athlete. He throws the ball well.”
Voorhees said that Iyer spent the spring and summer months working with assistant coach Peter Flora, who was a pretty successful quarterback for the Patriots during his playing days.
“Naryan just took it all in,” Voorhees said. “He came to us ready this year.”
The starting halfback is senior J.L. Castellanos (6-0, 175), who rushed for more than 500 yards last season.
“He has pretty deceptive speed,” Voorhees said of Castellanos.
Another halfback is junior Jenaro Montanez (5-8, 165), who also handles the team’s punt and kick returns.
“I call him ‘Baby Tejada,’ because he reminds me a little of David Tejada,” Voorhees said of the former Patriot All-State performer and Hudson Reporter Player of the Year in 2004 who led the state in scoring with an amazing 40 touchdowns his senior year. “He can make plays.”
The fullback is senior Sean Roesing (5-10, 185), the last of the incredibly gifted Roesing athletes who have graced Secaucus over the years. Sean’s two sisters, Cory and Danielle, were both former Hudson Reporter Female Athletes of the Year. Sean’s two older brothers, Eddie and Bobby, were also standout two-sport athletes during their day.
The youngest Roesing had about 800 yards rushing last year. Voorhees sums up his talent quite easily.
“What can I say?” Voorhees said. “He’s a Roesing.”
The wide receiver is senior Patrick Collins (6-2, 180), who is a great target for Iyer.
“He’s such a great kid,” Voorhees said. “He’s just so much fun to be around.”
The other wide receiver duties are being shared by juniors Justin Krause (5-8, 165) and John Jernstedt (6-1, 170).
Senior Bobby Wolf (6-1, 180) returns to his starting role at tight end and junior Josh DeJesus (6-1, 190) gives the Patriots depth at that position.
The offensive line features three returning starters in senior tackles Justin Estruch (6-0, 220) and John Sakatos (6-0, 200) and senior guard Brandon Medina (5-8, 210).
The other starters up front are junior guard Aug Medina (5-8, 185), Brandon’s brother, and junior Tom Eckert (6-1, 210) at center.
Defensively, the Patriots utilize a 3-4 defensive alignment.
Senior Tom Herring and senior Suhill Kapoor (6-2, 210) are the defensive ends, with senior Mike Schoendorf (6-0, 310) at the nose guard. Size like that should be able to plug up holes in a hurry.
Wolf and Castellanos are the outside linebackers, along with DeJesus and sophomore Amaury Brito (6-0, 185).
Roesing, who led the team in tackles last season, earning Hudson Reporter All-Area honors, is back at inside linebacker, along with Krause and senior Brandon Balanos (5-8, 185).
Junior Justin DeAvila (6-0, 165) is at one cornerback, with Iyer at the other. Voorhees has no hesitations about playing his quarterback on defense.
Collins and Jerstedt are safeties, joined by senior Rudy Montes (5-6, 160).
The Patriots open the 2013 season Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. when they take on Park Ridge.
“We know we have to start gaining momentum early and keep that going,” Voorhees said. “We also have to keep getting better, which I think we’re doing. We want to be able to peak getting into the playoffs.”
And the playoffs are obviously a huge goal. Missing out last year was just unacceptable.
“We’ve been there 12 of the last 14 years,” Voorhees said. “It’s very important for us. It’s very important for us to come out of the gates strong and then get better every day.” – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.