Rich Hansen has been involved as a football coach at St. Peter’s Prep for 37 years now, the last 32 of which have been as the head coach of the Marauders. The Prep football program is easily one of the top high school football organizations in the state.
So when Hansen offers the next comment about his senior do-everything Ben Silver, it certainly packs a punch.
“He’s the most complete kid I’ve ever coached,” Hansen said of Silver.
That’s saying a mouthful.
“It’s the truth,” Hansen insists. “You heard of low maintenance kids? Well, Ben is no maintenance. I never have to worry about a thing with him. My biggest concern is to find ways to keep him off the field. He’s such a versatile athlete. He’s a lunch pail type of football player. He just comes to work, does his job and goes home.”
When Silver was told of Hansen’s praise of him, he was floored.
“That’s just amazing to have him think that way of me,” Silver said. “I just put a lot of work in doing everything.”
Last weekend in the Marauders’ 26-22 come-from-behind win over rival Don Bosco Prep, Silver did exactly that. Need proof? Here goes:
- He played both defensive end and outside linebacker and collected 13 tackles, four of which went for negative yardage, including one sack.
- He played fullback on offense and offered some key blocks in both the running and passing game.
- He punted, a position that he earned Hudson Reporter All-Area honors for last year, getting one punt off from deep in his own end after the snap sailed high over his head, preventing a touchdown, while also unleashing another punt for an astounding 56 yards in the air.
- And yes, he also handled placekicking duties and nailed a crucial point after touchdown kick in the final minutes to put the Marauders up by four points instead of three.
The only thing Silver didn’t do was hand out programs before the game and sell popcorn at halftime. But it’s one of the most diversified performances a high school football player could have – and it came in one of the biggest games of the season, with two state-ranked teams knocking heads.
For his efforts, Silver has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
What makes Silver’s performance even more pertinent is that he grew up only a few steps away from Caven Point Cochrane Stadium. Silver is a Jersey City boy, through and through, a product of the Greenville section and Linden Avenue, just a pebble’s throw from Caven Point.
Silver got his start in football playing for the Jersey City Recreation Jets program and always dreamed about becoming a Marauder.
“When I was a little kid, I saw that picture book [Prep: The Spirit of a High School Football Team, by Richard Corman],” Silver said. “I just had started playing in Jersey City Rec and I saw that book and ever since then, I always said, ‘I want to play at St. Peter’s. It was what I wanted to do.”
When Silver was in seventh grade, he was introduced to Hansen.
“Ever since I met him, I knew that I wanted to play for him,” Silver said.
“I saw him play and I’ve been rooting for him ever since,” Hansen said. “He dispels the myth that Jersey City kids can’t play for Prep. It didn’t take very long to see he was going to be a special player for us. He’s a real good athlete.”
Silver first made his mark as a punter, a position that he has no peers in Hudson County. In fact, he’s one of the top three punters the county has ever produced.
“I have to give my Dad [Ian Silver] credit for helping me to become a punter,” Silver said. “It was one of the first things my Dad taught me. I take a lot of pride in my punting. My Dad wanted me to play everything, but his hard work in helping me punt paid off. When I came to Prep, I wanted to learn how to do everything. I like to learn and I thought I would be able to do it.”
Silver has been a two-way starter this year and serves as one of the Marauders’ captains. His performance against Don Bosco just stood out because he hardly ever came off the field – if ever.
“He’s an H back on offense,” Hansen said. “He blocks and pass protects. He gets out on run plays. He’s so coachable and so smart. He just loves the game. He gives 1,000 percent every day. He’s totally on point on whatever he does. Every week, he’s the glue who keeps us together. He’s just a warrior.”
Hansen has a special nickname for Silver.
“I call him Mr. Robot,” Hansen said. “His motor is second to none. He just loves football and plays it hard every day. He’s just a great role model and leader. Other kids should come to watch him for a day and see what he does. He’s special.”
Silver said that he doesn’t mind the nickname.
“I guess it’s because I play the game with passion and heart,” Silver said. “I like the nickname. I think it’s very cool.”
Silver said that his favorite position is playing defense.
“I think I’m able to set the tone of the game with my defense,” Silver said. “I always think I’m going to have a big game. When you play in a big game, you need to have focus.”
It is just like the mental awareness Silver had when he was placekicking last weekend. Regular placekicker Alexander Prescott went on a college recruiting trip, leaving just Mr. Robot to handle the kicking.
“I’m not super used to doing it,” Silver said. “I haven’t done it much in a while. I told my parents I was kicking and my mother got nervous. I missed one, but I knew I had to come back and get the other one.”
And Silver nailed it, putting a capper on his great day to remember.
Silver is also an excellent student in the classroom. He possesses a 3.7 grade point average and is being recruited by all the Ivy League and Patriot League schools. He already has scholarship offers from some top schools.
“He’s a scholarship kid,” Hansen said. “He’ll be playing somewhere next year.”
“I would say that having that GPA goes a long way,” Silver said. “You can’t have one without the other. I try to stay focused in both areas.”
It’s safe to say that Ben Silver is focused in a lot of areas for the Marauders, currently ranked No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 5 among Catholic schools in the country. Silver is a major reason why the Marauders are in the lofty perch. Just ask his coach. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com