The Patriots of Secaucus High School won six football games in 2013 and qualified for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state playoffs. It was the 13th appearance in the state playoffs in head coach Charlie Voorhee’s 15-year career.
Remarkably, Voorhees begins his 16th year as the head coach of the Patriots. It seems like yesterday when Voorhees was a young and up-and-coming mentor. Now, he’s a grizzled veteran.
And every year since he’s been in charge, Voorhees, who also doubles as the school’s athletic director, has made one goal so perfectly clear.
“We try to play for two championships, our league and the state,” Voorhees said. “That’s the goal. That’s always been the goal. We try to get both. I say that to the kids every year from Day One. I believe they understand that. You know you’re still doing the right thing when you get the kids to comprehend and respond. It’s a difficult challenge to have them all do something for the team. They have to understand that the whole is better than the piece.”
Leading the way for the Patriots is junior Narayan Iyer (5-10, 180), who is the returning starting quarterback. Voorhees has put his entire trust in Iyer’s hands.
“Our assistant coach Peter Flora does a great job with our quarterbacks,” Voorhees said. “Narayan moves very well and handles the huddle well. He also does a great job handling the ball. He also can throw pretty well.”
Junior Evander Pons (5-8, 170) has a chance to be the workhorse in the Patriots’ backfield.
“He’s a hard runner,” Voorhees said. “He’s also very tough and handles himself well.”
Senior Justin Krause (5-8, 180) will also get his share of carries in the backfield.
“He’s a tough kid who blocks well,” Voorhees said. “He’s a playbook guy. He knows the game. He’s also a solid runner.”
Senior Genaro Montanez (5-7, 150) and junior Adam Rodriguez (5-7, 160) are others who will get considerable playing time in the Secaucus backfield.
Senior John Jernstedt (6-1, 185) is the team’s top wide receiver. Jernstedt is a three-year varsity performer.
“He’s a good football player,” Voorhees said of Jernstedt. “He’s a good target and has good hands. He also has good speed. He’s a solid leader.”
Senior Rich Ortiz (5-8, 180) and junior Jeter Artiles (5-8, 170) are other wide receivers for Iyer to throw to. And yes, Artiles is named after the Yankee captain Derek Jeter who is retiring from baseball next month.
The tight end is senior Josh DeJesus (6-2, 210), who is a solid representative of the Secaucus football program.
“Josh is a good blocker,” Voorhees said. “He’s matured so much since last year. He really has taken on the responsibility of being a leader. He’s just a solid kid.”
Voorhees likes the makeup of his offensive line.
“We’re solid across the front,” Voorhees said.
The tackles are seniors Tom Eckert (6-1, 220) and Tyler Hering (6-2, 230). Eckert is a three-year starter along the Secaucus offensive line.
The guards are junior Amaury Brito (5-10, 185) and senior Austin Medina (5-9, 200). Medina is another player with three years of varsity experience. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of knowledge up front.
The center is sophomore Saummy Duran (6-0, 220), who has a ton of promise and could become a standout right away.
The DiGiorgio brothers, namely senior Vito (5-10, 180) and junior Luciano (5-10, 210), have solid chances to see time along the offensive line. Vito DiGiorgio is a guard, while Luciano is a tackle.
Senior Orlando DeAvila (5-10, 210) is another solid lineman who sees time at guard.
The Patriots play a 3-4 defensive formation, keyed by Eckert at nose guard.
Hering and Medina are solid bookends at defensive end. Medina always manages to get his fair share of tackles. He has a nose for the football.
The Patriots are rock solid at linebacker, with DeJesus and Brito at outside linebacker and Krause and Pons on the inside. Krause has been a mainstay among the Patriots’ linebackers for three seasons.
Senior Devon Postel (5-10, 180) and junior Andrew Beato (5-7, 180) are two reserve linebackers who will get a chance to make plays this season for the Patriots.
The cornerbacks are senior Justin DeAvila (5-10, 175) and Rodriguez, with Montanez and Jernstedt at safety. Jernstedt is a player to watch in the secondary.
The Patriots open the season against old foe St. Mary’s of Rutherford on Saturday, Sept. 13.
Voorhees likes the makeup of his team.
“I think we can compete,” Voorhees said. “I think our first unit can compete with most. The second and third units have to prove that they can compete. But we have a solid team.”
The Patriots will once again be in the hunt for an NJIC divisional crown and a Group I state playoff berth. That’s almost a given every year. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.