August 19, 2018
2017 In Review: The Knights were 11-1, winning the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 championship by beating Voorhees after beating Rahway and Ridgefield Park. They scored 370 points for a 30.83 average, while allowing 139 points for an 11.58 average, including three shutouts. Wins included Caldwell, Parsippany Hills, and Hanover Park, while their lone loss came at the hands of West Morris, 14-13.
Graduation Losses: FB/LB Anthony Sangillo – FDU (Madison), HB/DB Vincent Scaglia – Moravian, OL/DL Eamon Morrison – Gettysburg, NG Gerard Onorata – College of New Jersey, OL/DL Frank LaGreca – Moravian for baseball
Offense: West Essex runs a multiple Wing-T with the spread and gun, returning four starters. Senior Zach Lemanski (6-3, 220) returns for his third year at quarterback and senior Will Perez (6-3, 195) returns at one halfback. The other halfback is senior Nick Celentano (6-0, 167) and senior Dorian Gashi (5-11, 182) will be the fullback, as both started on defense last year.
At split end, senior Philip Lutz (6-0, 174) returns at split end and senior Joe D’Albo (6-1, 184) will see action. The tight end will be senior Ryan Rusignuolo (5-11, 169).
The lone starter returning to the line is senior center Mike Finetti (6-1, 209). Right tackle will be junior Bardhyl Gashi (6-3, 292) and the right guard is junior Vito Benevenga (5-9, 218). The left guard will be senior Mike Cuozzo (5-8, 273) and left tackle will be either senior Peter Petronczak 6-2, 263) or senior Jonathan Scrivo (5-8, 211).
Defense: The Knights run a 3-4 and return six starters. Finetti and Cuozzo are the ends, with Bardhyl Gashi at nose guard. Rotating will be Scrivo and Petronczak.
Dorian Gashi returns at inside linebacker, while seniors Wes Asche (6-1, 192) and Luke Dignazio (5-11, 192) are back on the outside. Playing inside will be Benevenga or sophomore Vincent Panzarino (6-2, 210).
The secondary has three starters back with Lutz and Celentano returning on the corners plus Perez at strong safety. D’Albo will play free safety and he saw action late in the season.
Special Teams: Senior Pat Delehanty returns at kicker and junior Tyler Logan is back as the punter. The return men will be Lutz and D’Albo on punts, with Perez, Lutz, Catalbo, and Garofalo returning kicks.
Friday, 9/7, at Hanover Park, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, Newark Central at home, 7 PM
Saturday, 9/22, at Snyder, 1 PM
Friday, 9/28, Lincoln at home, 7 PM
Saturday, 10/6, at Nutley, 2 PM
Friday, 10/12, Caldwell at home, 7 PM
Friday, 10/19, Parsippany Hills at home, 7 PM
Friday, 10/26, at West Side, 7 PM
Recruits: Perez verballed to Princeton, while Dorian Gashi has interest from Wagner. Lemanski and Lutz have Ivy and Patriot League interest and others who will interest D2/D3 schools are Dignazio, Celentano, and Penetti.
In the junior class, Bardhyl Gashi will be an Ivy/Patriot League candidate.
Concerns: Both lines are inexperienced.
Coach’s Comments: “We need to develop the cohesion on both lines. We lost four of five starters on the offensive line and all three on our defensive line. WE also need to utilize the talent we have to win and compensate if another team takes that way. WE also need to stay healthy and this is a hungry group of kids who rarely talk about last year; they’ve been all business.” – Head Coach Chris Benacquista