Post 34 – HS Football – Preview: Rutherford

August 11, 2018

2017 In Review:  The Bulldogs were 11-0, winning the North Jersey Section 2 Group 2 championship by beating Hackettstown after beating Lenape Valley and Lyndhurst.  They scored 312 points for a 28.36 average, while allowing 104 for a 9.45 average, including three shutouts.  Wins included Hasbrouck Heights, New Milford, Manchester, and Waldwick.

Graduation Losses:  WR/DB Billy Finn – Wagner

Offense:  Rutherford runs a multiple spread and returns six starters.  Returning at quarterback is senior Kyle Russell (5-10, 160) and senior Abellany Mendez (5-7, 165) returns at running back.  Also seeing time at running back will be senior St. Mary’s transfer Justin Finelli (5-9, 210) and junior Kris Guzman (5-11, 180).

The receivers have senior Ryan Landrigan (5-10, 175) returning as a tight end/wide receiver who will also line up as a running back.  Senior Owen Meister (5-11, 160) had some reps last year and others in the mix will be seniors Zach Bouabidi (6-1, 145), Zach Gryskiewicz (5-9, 165), and Connor Cahill (5-10, 160).

Three starters return to the line.  Back are senior left tackle Lawson Fisher (6-2, 215), junior left guard Sebastian Gaeta (5-11, 220), and senior center Nick Ippolito (5-10, 205).  On the right side, the frontrunners are senior Arthur Antunez (5-11, 220) at guard and senior Jack Melfa (5-6, 185) at tackle.

Defense:  The Bulldogs run multiple 4-3 and return five starters.  Fisher is back at tackle and he will be lined up all over the line.  Melfi returns at end with Ippolito playing the other side.  Juniors Chris Avramidis (5-10, 270) and Robert Chinery (5-11, 230), and others will compete for at tackle.

The linebackers bring back Gaeta in the middle and Landrigan on the weak side.  On the strong side will be Gryskiewicz or senior Bryan Hennessey (5-10, 170).  Also getting time at any of the three positions is junior Brian Inguanti (6-1, 190).

Mendez returns at cornerback, where he will play there or at safety.  Finelli will be one safety, while Cahill can play safety or cornerback.  Guzman may play safety or linebacker, while Bouabidi and senior Eugene Kim (5-11, 150) are competing at cornerback.

Special Teams:  Fisher is back at kicker and Meister returns at punter.  The return men will be Mendez and Kim.


Friday, 8/31, Manchester at home, 6 PM
Friday, 9/7, at Palisades Park, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, at Garfield, 7 PM
Saturday, 9/22, Glen Rock at home, 1 PM
Saturday, 9/29, Waldwick-Midland Park at Midland Park, 1 PM
Friday, 10/5, Lodi at home, 7 PM
10/12-13, Bye Week
10/19-20, NJIC Playoffs
10/26-27, NJIC Playoffs

Recruits:  Fisher has received interest from Monmouth, Albany, and Stony Brook.  Mendez may play baseball.  There are a couple of players who may go D3.

Concerns:  Complacency, the championship hangover.

Coach’s Comments:  “We return a lot of starters on both sides of the ball.  They’re tough kids with experience.  We will have some new kids who played JV and if they adapt to varsity, we will be competitive.  Last year, we flew under the radar; this year we wear a bulls-eye with teams gunning for us and I hope the kids realize that.” – Head Coach Andy Howell


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