August 17, 2018
2017 In Review: The Comets were 9-3, winning the Central Jersey Group 2 title by beating Point Pleasant Boro after beating Johnson and South River. The scored 341 points for a 28.42 average, while allowing 177 for a 14.75 average. Wins included Roselle, Delaware Valley, and Brearley, while their losses were to Johnson, Cranford, and Rahway.
Graduation Losses: QB Tajae Irby – Caldwell sprint football, NG Elijah Cotton – William Paterson, DL Ennin-Kwabena Frimpong – Fort Scott JC (Kansas)
Offense: Hillside runs a multiple spread and return eight starters. Quarterback has a new starter in junior Gavin Melendez (6-3, 200). Running back has two 1,000 yard rushers back in senior Brian Ugwu (6-3, 228) and junior James Louis (5-7, 163). Both can line up all over the field in both one and two-back sets.
Three wide receivers are back: junior Nahree Biggins 6-0, 180), senior Boris Nicolas-Paul (5-10, 175), and senior Shadon Willis (6-1, 165). Also in the mix will be senior Charles Amissah (6-3, 190). The tight end is senior Mateus Ramos (5-11, 215) and junior Akugbe Omokaro (6-0, 230) will be an h-back.
Four starters return on the line: senior right tackle Aboubakar Diaby (6-2, 220), senior right guard Kwame Frimpong (6-0, 260), junior center Jayden Shaw (5-10, 240), and senior left guard Jason Wheeler (6-3, 319), a three-year starter. The left tackle will be senior Amad Jean-Charles (6-4, 265), who played tight end last year. Pushing for time along the line is senior David Moline (6-1, 245).
Defense: The Comets run a 3-3 stack and return six starters. Ramos and senior Lekalay Horace (6-0, 200) are the ends, while senior Derick Estinvil (5-9, 230) will play nose guard. Junior Kazi Holston (5-11, 225) will rotate with Estinvil.
Inside linebacker has a pair of three-year starters back in Ugwu and senior Najee Peele (5-8, 180), while Omokaro will be the third inside backer. Outside linebacker, or the dog in Hillside terminology, has Nicolas-Paul and Willis back, with Nicolas-Paul a three-year starter.
Returning in the secondary are senior Emmanuel Sass (5-11, 160) at cornerback and Biggins at free safety, with Sass a three-year starter and the same goes for Biggins if you count his starting the last three games of freshman year. The other corner will be senior Preston Mekoba (5-11, 160) and junior Jyleen Neals (5-6, 155) possibly getting time.
Special Teams: Senior Hugo Carrico returns as both the kicker and punter. Biggins will return punts and kickoffs, with Louis returning kickoffs.
Friday, 9/7, at Middlesex, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, Roselle, home at Rahway, 7
Friday, 9/21, at Delaware Valley, 7 PM
Saturday, 9/29, at Bernards, 1 PM (tentative, depending on completion of Hillside field)
Friday, 10/5, at Johnson, 7 PM
Saturday, 10/13, at South River, 1 PM
Saturday, 10/20, North Plainfield, 1 PM
Saturday, 10/27, Cranford at home, 1 PM
Recruits: Ugwu has nineteen offers and is down to Rutgers, Temple, Pitt, and Minnesota. Nicholas-Paul has committed to Army and Willis has offers from Delaware State, Bryant, and others.
In the junior class, Biggins has offers from Rutgers, Temple, Kentucky, Nebraska, Syracuse, and others.
Concerns: Getting the new quarterback up to speed.
Coach’s Comments: “We return a lot from last year. This is my third year as coach and it’s the first group of players I get to see through. We have a mature group and it’s a matter of keeping the same focus we had at the end of last year. Hillside has not been known as a football town and we’re trying to change that. We need to stay hungry and put a good run together.” – Head Coach Barris Grant