July 27, 2018
2017 in Review: The Golden Hawks were 11-1, winning the North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 championship by beating Ramapo after beating Demarest and Paramus. They scored 382 points for a 31.83 average, while allowing 209 for a 17.42 average. Wins included Westwood, Northern Highlands, and Shippensburg Area (Pa.), while their lone loss was to Ramapo.
Graduation Losses: QB David Estevez – Wesleyan
Offense: River Dell runs the spread option and returns seven starters. They have five players competing at quarterback and head coach DJ Nimphius likes all of them: senior Jack Gillies (6-0, 190), sophomore Jesse Henderson (6-1, 170), sophomore Christian Hay (6-1, 170), senior Jack Racine (6-1, 185), and junior Mike Sirico (5-9, 155). Racine and Sirico started at wide receiver and will be there if they aren’t playing quarterback. Returning at running back is senior Dave Fletcher (5-11, 190) and the load will be shared by senior Cole Murrell (5-10, 185), senior Kieran Hughes (5-9, 165), and sophomore Michael Mellett (5-7, 165).
Returning at wide receiver are Racine, Sirico, junior Holden Brodersen (6-1, 195), and senior Ryan Berninger (5-10, 165). Also in the mix are junior Joe Mellett (5-9, 155) and a host of others. When a tight end is used, it will be senior Matt McHale (6-2, 205).
Four starters are back on the line: seniors Hiyuma Nagai (5-9, 195) at center, three-year starter Griffin Milgram (6-1, 220) at tackle, Aaron Furneaux (5-11, 205), and Jake Manning (5-11, 185). Also getting time will be senior John Straniero (5-11, 195), sophomore Steve Tibus (5-10, 295), sophomore Gabe Rispoli (6-3, 265), and others.
Defense: The Golden Hawks run multiple three-man fronts and return nine starters. Tibus returns at nose guard, while Furneaux is a three-year starter at tackle. Rispoli will also play at nose guard and tackle. In the mix will be junior Robert Grisham (6-2, 185), junior Ryan McDonald 6-3, 190), junior Josh Iyonsi (6-3, 305), and others.
The linebackers are interchangeable and experienced, with Nagai, senior Matt Froonjian (5-9, 185), senior three-year starter Conor Murphy (5-9, 195) returning. Also coming back is Murrell, who was the leading tackler and missed last season with an injury.
The secondary has Racine, Sirico, and senior Tyler Mallaci (5-9, 170) returning on the corners. Strong safety will be Bordesen and junior Shane Quinn (5-10, 170) will play free safety. Others will see time, including sophomore Brendan Walker (6-0, 175).
Special Teams: Gillies returns as the kicker and the punter will be either Fletcher or Murphy. The return men will be any of the running backs, wide receivers, or quarterbacks.
Friday, 8/31, Westwood at home, 6 PM
Friday, 9/7, at Parsippany Hills, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, Demarest at home, 6 PM
Friday, 9/21, at Newburgh Free Academy (NY), 7 PM
Friday, 9/28, at Ramapo, 7 PM
Friday, 10/5, at Englewood, 7 PM
Friday, 10/12, Pascack Valley at home, 6 PM
Friday, 10/19, Paramus at home, 6PM
10/26-10/27, Bye Week
Recruits: Racine is probably going to play in the NESCAC or Centennial Conference. Milgram, Fletcher, Murrell, Furneaux, and Murphy are solid D3 candidates. Nagai will be D3 in either football or wrestling. Hughes will go D3 in lacrosse.
Concerns: Replacing Estevez, who provided 7,000 yards of offense in his career.
Comments: “We have had plenty of time to get ready and the kids have worked hard. We have to get out of the gate quickly with the tough schedule we have.” – Head Coach DJ Nimphius