Post 30 – HS Football – Preview: Pope John

August 8, 2018 

2017 In Review:  The Lions were 6-4, losing to St. Joe’s (Montvale) in the Non-Public Group 3 semi-finals after beating Donovan Catholic.  They scored 293 points for a 29.3 average, while allowing 176 for a 17.6 average.  Wins included Paramus Catholic, Malvern Prep (Pa.), and Delbarton, while their other losses were to Bergen Catholic, DePaul, and St. Joe’s (Montvale).

Graduation Losses:  LB Nick DeNucci – Boston College, LB Jake Brown – Harvard, OL/DL Aidan Murray – Richmond, DB Jhadir Charles – Monmouth, LB Ryan Greenhagen – Fordham, DB Ty Hranicka – Lafayette, FB Ron Fox – Towson, TE Jason Miller – Towson, RB Terrance Jones – Idaho State, RB Burrell Neal – Assumption, C Nick Bello – Assumption, T Austin Pedersen – Kutztown, DB Joe Quitadamo – Stonehill (Mass.), DB Giovanni Triarico – Merrimack, T Jack Morelli – Catholic U, WR Samuel Darnell – Susquehanna, OL Jack Ryan – Wesleyan, DT Jonathan Marquez – East Stroudsburg, WR Tim Fitzpatrick – Muhlenberg, K Vincent Antoniello – Bucknell, DB Jordan Francois – Bridgeton Pep (Maine), DB Trevor Cregg – Bloomsburg (Pa.), WR Tyler Cregg – Bloomsburg (Pa.), DB Zachary Cluett – Castleton (Vt.)

Offense:  Pope John runs a multiple spread and returns two starters. Senior Niko Hroncich (6-2, 195) is the incumbent and he will be supported by freshman Peter Dellaporta (6-2, 190).  At running back, it will be a combination of junior Nafis Matthews (5-9, 200) and senior Jake Huhn (5-9, 190).

Returning at wide receiver is senior Taj Jones (6-2, 195) and senior Ryan Dengler (5-10, 180) had quality time last year.  Also going to play are junior Menelyk Ward (5-9, 180) and sophomore Jarelle Robinson (5-10, 170).  The tight end, when used, will be senior Ryan Rumanowsky (6-2, 215).

The line is entirely new this year and the right tackle will be senior Gio Potente (6-4, 290), with junior Mike Maglio (6-2, 280) at right guard.  Junior David Heath (6-4, 255) is he left tackle, junior Ethan Doumbe (6-2, 280) at left guard, and junior Jacob Sledge (5-11, 260) at center.

Defense:  The Lions run a multiple three and four-man fronts and return two starters and another who missed most of the season.  Seniors Louis Montana (6-4, 260) and Ireland Burke (6-3, 298) return, with Burke missing most of the year with an injury.  Also playing a lot will be senior Nick DeSenzo (6-0, 275), junior Issaaiha Robinson (6-0, 230), and junior Jas Taylor (5-11, 245).

Linebacker will have senior Chris Sabo (6-2, 220) and junior Pedro Calderon (6-0, 225) manning the inside, while senior Julian Canty (6-1, 215) and junior Miguel Lopez (5-10, 190) on the outside.  Possibly getting time inside will be sophomore Mike Stella (5-9, 190).

Returning in the secondary is senior strong safety Chris Rodriguez (5-9, 200).  Free safety will be junior Mike DeNucci (5-11, 200), while the corners are manned by senior Anthony Holmes (6-0, 185) and junior Connor Milks (6-3, 185).  Possibly playing in nickel packages will be seniors Zach Cuttito (6-0, 175) and Christian Maciak (5-9, 185).

Special Teams:  Juniors Justin Hertlein and Collin Mills will be competing at both kicker and punter.  The return men will be Ward, Robinson, and Rodriguez.


Saturday, 9/1, DePaul at home, 1 PM
Friday, 9/7, at Paramus Catholic, 7 PM
Saturday, 9/15, at Archbishop Wood (Pa.), 7 PM
Saturday, 9/22, at St. Joe’s (Montvale), 1 PM
Friday, 9/28, at Don Bosco, 7 PM
Saturday, 10/6, Delbarton at home, 2:30 PM
Saturday, 10/13, at Bergen Catholic, 1 PM
Saturday, 10/20, St. Peter’s Prep at home, 1 PM
Saturday, 10/27, at Seton Hall Prep, 1 PM

Recruits:  Burke has offers from Rutgers, Minnesota, Purdue, Temple, Maryland, Florida Atlantic, and several others.  Jones has offers from Rutgers, Buffalo, Temple, Toledo, and Monmouth.  Montana has offers from Monmouth and Elon, while Potente has Monmouth and Fordham offers.  Hroncich has Patriot League interest and Rodriguez has CAA interest.  Holmes has 1-AA interest. Possessing a vertical jump of 42” and Dengler is also getting 1-AA interest.

Among juniors, Heath will be a 1-A recruit, but has no offers at this point.  Ward will be 1-AA/1-A, depending on his year.  DeNucci will play somewhere and others will need a good year.

Concerns:  Inexperience after graduating many.

Coach’s Comments:  “We have been doing a great job in summer workouts.  I have been pleasantly surprised by their progress and we may surprise people.” – Head Coach Brian Carlson

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