Czar Wiley said that he learned a lot during his first year as the North Bergen head football coach.
“I knew what I wanted to do,” said Wiley, the former North Bergen three-sport standout and former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year in 1997. “Because I got the job late, I thought it might take a little longer, but we kept the tradition going and made the playoffs.”
The Bruins did qualify for the NJSIAA’s new fangled North Jersey Section 1, Group V bracket, but lost in the first round to neighboring rival Union City to finish the season at 5-5.
“Our goals are a little higher this year,” Wiley said. “I think this is a great team, a real sleeper in Group V. If we come together, like I think we can, we can be a dangerous team.”
Wiley implemented a version of the no-huddle spread offense that his former coach at New Hampshire Chip Kelly used at Oregon. Kelly has now moved on to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
That hurry-up approach raised some eyebrows last year, but Wiley didn’t care.
“Without a doubt, there were a lot of critics, people who don’t think it can be run on the high school level,” Wiley said. “I disagree. It’s something we believe in and we know it can work.”
So Wiley went back to work to make sure that his offense runs smoother this season.
“It’s a whole lot faster,” Wiley said. “The kids have started to understand the philosophy behind it.”
Wiley also needed a commitment from his coaching staff.
“I needed the staff to realize that this is a 12-month-a-year job,” Wiley said. “If they wanted to coach another sport in another season, then that’s fine, but they can’t be with us. We implemented things in January and needed everyone on board. It gives us the chance to compete with the big boys. It’s all about tempo.”
Wiley said that he wanted to make things as easy as possible for the players.
“We don’t want them to think,” Wiley said. “We want them to just play and go. It’s been going great. The kids love it. They’re now starting to see where this can take us. I really believe in these kids. They’re working hard. I believe they can do it.”
Maybe the biggest reason why Wiley has such high hopes is returning senior quarterback Dominick Trautz (6-1, 190).
Trautz was a Hudson Reporter All-Area selection last year at quarterback, passing for 2,800 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also scored nine touchdowns rushing.
“Without a doubt, he’s a big part of our offense,” Wiley said. “The offense starts and ends with him. We expect him to be more of a leader this year. We’re asking him to do a lot, but I’m confident he can do it.”
Wiley said that he feels better about Trautz’s leadership abilities after a recent practice.
“He sat the team down and had about a 20-minute speech to them,” Wiley said of his quarterback. “He realizes what he has to do. It’s his team and I told him that.”
Senior Brandonlee Diaz (5-10, 170) is the top returning running back. Diaz battled through some injuries a year ago to collect more than 500 yards rushing.
Others in the backfield include junior Anthony DeOrio (5-9, 175) and junior Victor Richardson (5-10, 180), a transfer from Virginia.
Junior Daniel Hackley (5-8, 150) is one of the fastest players in Hudson County. He returns as one of Trautz’s main targets at receiver. Juniors Luis Tajardo (5-9, 175) and Marc Vicente (5-10, 180) are also receivers in the Bruins’ spread offense. Again, the entire offense is predicated on getting to the ball as quickly as possible for the next snap, so players will become interchangeable.
Senior Justin DeLorenzo (6-0, 190) returns as the starter at tight end.
The offensive line has two returning starters in senior guard Kristian Nunez (6-4, 260) and senior center Steven Gomez (5-10, 215). Junior Bryant Wexler (5-11, 225) is at one tackle, with senior Alex Delbert (5-10, 210) at the other. Junior guard Ivan Romero (5-10, 190) rounds out the offensive line.
Defensively, the Bruins will utilize a 3-4 alignment, with Wexler at defensive end, along with senior Kevin Herrera (5-8, 185). Junior Justin Gomez (6-0, 235 and no relation to Steven) is the nose guard.
DeLorenzo returns to his starting position at outside linebacker, joined by junior Sam Rosa (6-1, 185). Junior Emmanuel Cordoba (6-0, 220) and sophomore Nathaniel Zamot (6-0, 170) are the outside linebackers.
The cornerbacks are Diaz and Hackley, giving the Bruins excellent speed in the secondary. The safeties are Tajardo and senior Adonis Montero (5-10, 170).
The Bruins open up the 2013 season on Friday, Sept. 6, when they travel to face Paterson Eastside.
“I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat, week in and week out,” Wiley said. “I like the makeup of the team. The only thing we have to do is come together.”
It sounds like a Beatles hit, but if it worked for John, Paul, George and Ringo, perhaps it can work for the Bruins this season as well. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.