Patriots try to stand tall in shortened season

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Patriots try to stand tall in shortened season
Secaucus head football coach Charlie Voorhees poses with the senior members of his team. Front row, from left, are Peter Weber, Aidan Velez, Veton Tolaj and Hector Reveron. Back row, from left, are Zachary Pascarello, head coach Voorhees, Aaron Yanez and Daniel Ross

The Secaucus High School football team posted a 2-6 record in 2019, but veteran head coach Charlie Voorhees believes that record could have been dramatically improved.

“I really felt like we should have won more games,” said Voorhees, who begins his 22nd year as the head coach of the Patriots. “I really thought we could have won two more games. We played some good teams and we hung with them. But we just didn’t score when we had to.”

Voorhees is not going to lie about the status of his program. There have been some lean years recently.

“We have struggled the last few years,” Voorhees said. “But there’s still a lot of pride in this program. The town is working with us in terms of getting us kids. We play hard. The hunger of these kids is evident. They come to work every single day.”

Voorhees said that his program was up and running in March, poised to christen a new weight room that was installed.

“We were ready to go,” Voorhees said. “We were revving the engines. And then, bang, it got shut down.”

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt end to the school year and any subsequent school activities in March.

“The bad part of it is that these kids missed out on six months of development,” Voorhees said. “They couldn’t wait to get going with all the stuff we had installed.”

Voorhees had to wear both of his hats – as head coach and as athletic director – throughout the pandemic.

“We were doing all the right things,” Voorhees said. “I had to think about all our fall sports. We knew who we had coming back in football. I have to give the kids credit. They did a lot of the workouts on their own.”

When the restrictions were lifted in August and the Patriots could return to the practice field, Voorhees said that they were remarkably prepared.

“They did the best they could do with the opportunities they had,” Voorhees said. “They did all they were asked of.”

Voorhees was part of the committees with the NJSIAA concerning football returning, as well as helping with the scheduling for the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference, the league that Secaucus plays in.

But that’s a lot to ask of one guy who is also trying to coach a football team.

“I’m proud of the fact that we all worked together to get back on the field,” Voorhees said. “We just had to figure some things out. I just wanted to see if we could all agree on playing just one game. As it turned out, it was the end result of a lot of meetings.”

The Patriots will feature senior Veton Tolaj at quarterback. The 6-0, 190-pound Tolaj is a versatile player.

“He’s played everywhere for us,” Voorhees said of Tolaj. “He’s a four-year starter for us, but this is his first at quarterback. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He certainly helps teaching all the younger kids what to do.”

The starting fullback is junior John Young (6-1, 190).

“He’s a player,” Voorhees said of Young. “He’s well put together. He has a motor in him that won’t stop. He also has a nasty edge to him, which I like. He’s going to be big for us.”

The halfback is sophomore Aly Marzouk (5-8, 160).

“He can do everything for us,” Voorhees said. “He reminds me of a miniature Bobby [Roesing, who is now part of the Patriots’ coaching staff]. He’s going to be a really good player for us.”

The receiving corps features seniors Aidan Velez (6-2, 190) at tight end and Peter Weber (6-2, 210) at wide receiver.

“I’m asking a lot from them,” Voorhees said of his senior leaders.

Senior Hector Reveron (5-10, 185) is another veteran receiver.

“I think Rev can give us something,” Voorhees said. “He’s been with us for four years, so he knows what to do.”

Junior Linus Mundo (5-9, 180) has great speed and helps the receiving corps.

“He was a good Rec [Secaucus Recreation] player who went to play soccer for two years,” Voorhees said. “Now he’s come back to football. He can be a good football player.”

The offensive line features a solid bunch of returning players. Seniors Zachary Pascarello (6-2, 260) and Daniel Ross (6-2, 200) are solid tackles.

“Pascarello keeps getting better every year,” Voorhees said. “He loves being out there and works hard. He also keeps helping the younger guys.”

The offensive guards are juniors Dylan Formisano (5-9, 230) and Nicholas Bartletta (6-0, 210).

Sophomore Massimo Iacopelli (6-2, 270) is a mainstay at tackle.

“Iacopelli is a wrestler who also plays football,” Voorhees said. “He also throws the discus and the shot put in the spring. He’s just a good athlete.”

Like Iacopelli, Formisano is a member of the Secaucus wrestling team.

The center is junior Kyle Woltmann (6-0, 230). The guards are senior Aaron Yanez (6-0, 225) and junior Michael Nardone (5-9, 180).

Defensively, the Patriots will feature Weber and Velez at defensive ends, with a host of the other aforementioned linemen splitting time at the two defensive tackle slots.

The linebacker corps is a good one, with Young, Nardone, Zachary Martorano and Jacob Anderson joining John Spirito.

“Spirito is a first-time varsity football player,” Voorhees said. “He’s one of the best athletes on the team.”

The player to watch defensively is Weber at defensive end.

“He’s the best coming off the corner,” Voorhees said. “He’s really tough coming off the corner.” Mundo and Tolaj are the cornerbacks and Marzouk is at safety with Reveron.

“If we execute like we want, we’ll be in every game,” Voorhees said. We have a strong defense. If you stay a defensive team, and go to the fourth quarter with the game in reach, you have a shot. We just need to play strong defense to give our team a shot.” – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com

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