BERKELEY HEIGHTS – First-year head coach Dan Guyton previously served as an assistant at Governor Livingston for seven seasons.
His final one was the 2008 campaign when the Highlanders reached the North 2, Group 2 championship game and for a brief moment before a touchdown was called back because of a penalty, led Caldwell 13-0 before eventually falling 22-7 at the old Giants Stadium.
GL finished 7-5 that season, which was its last winning campaign.
That’s what Guyton is striving for, to get the Highlanders back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and for them to have another shot at winning the program’s first state championship in the playoff era.
Guyton, 33, is a GL graduate who is now the head coach of the GL football team. He graduated from the BerkeleyHeights school in 1998.
“Coming out of college I wanted to be an educator and a football coach,” Guyton said. “I applied (for the GL job) last year and when Gary (Lubisco) got it I thought I wouldn’t get a shot.”
Lubisco was the head coach for just last year before going back to Dunellen, this time as its vice principal. Before last year, Lubisco – a 1995 Millburn graduate – was a longtime assistant coach at Dunellen under head coach Dave DeNapoli.
Guyton remained on head coach Mike Mancino’s staff at Johnson last year, which was his fourth and second as defensive coordinator. He first coached at Johnson under head coach Nick Gregorio, who asked him to be a part of his staff at the Clark school.
“Mike Mancino allowed me to stay at Johnson and made me the defensive coordinator,” Guyton said. “My four years at Johnson I got to coach every varsity position.
“After the 2008 season and what GL accomplished that year I thought it was the right thing to do, going to Johnson.”
During his seven seasons as an assistant coach at GL, he was on head coach Joe Hubert’s staff his final two years of 2002 and 2003 and head coach Terry Hanratty’s staff his first five of eight years, from 2004-2008.
“Coaching for both of them was a great experience,” Guyton said.
Now Guyton’s a head coach for the first time and it happens to be at his alma mater.
“This isn’t about me, it’s about our kids,” Guyton said. “I got into this to develop kids and to teach them to do the right thing.”
Speaking of his kids, his spread, single wing offense will be led by returning senior quarterback Pat Mahoney.
“Pat is a hard-nosed kid, an old-time athlete who plays football, basketball and baseball,” Guyton said. “He should thrive in our offense because he can do multiple things. This suits his style of hard-nosed play.”
Guyton is fortunate enough to have a returning 1,000-yard rusher back in senior Ryan Jennings.
“He’s a great kid, with great character,” Guyton said. “He’s going to Fordham for baseball, but he’s also totally committed to football, which is extraordinary.
“He brings everyone with him. He’s our leader, our guy.”
Impact players on defense include returning starters – of which GL has seven on that side of the ball – Anthony Amatucci, a senior, at right tackle and Alex Boyd, a junior, at middle linebacker.
“Anthony is a strong kid with a low center of gravity,” Guyton said. “He watches a lot of film and has a desire in his heart to be real good. He’s strong and in shape.
“Alex is greatly influenced by Ryan Jennings, following in his footsteps as a running back and linebacker. He also has high character and gives everything he’s got.”
Guyton, who has been a teacher – industrial arts and technology – at GL for 11 years now, has also been the head indoor track coach for the past two years and the assistant spring track coach under Hubert for the last 10.
“The kids deserve the program to be firing on all cylinders,” Guyton said.
In an attempt to bring his first GL team more together and teach his players how lucky they are, the Highlanders paid a one-day visit to the Children’s SpecializedHospital in Mountainside on Aug. 26.
“With the season beginning later this year, we spent a day there during the pre-season,” Guyton said. “We cleaned the whole playground area and washed cars, including their transportation vehicles.”
Guyton’s GL players are also involved in a fundraiser where a percentage of money is donated to the hospital based on the amount each kid lifts in the weight room.
“We call it “Lifting for Kids,” Guyton said.
Mountainside residents on the varsity roster include: Brian Stearns, Connor Lawrence, Andrew Zecca, Jensen Butler, John Wills, Michael Rhodes, Stephen Sottosanti, Richie Leonardis, Frank Barone, Jeff McMahon, Matt Bruno, Alex Lopez, Michael Matarredona, RJ Greeley, Anthony Amatucci, Samuel Alemany, TJ McGowan, Jimmy Longo and Stephen Disko.
Berkeley Heights residents on the varsity roster include: PJ Jamolawicz, Jesse Giambra, Matt Rothfeld, Mike Policastro, Nick DeLuca, Samuel Burke, Brian Hutton, Evan Lerch, Anthony Wong, Patrick Mahoney, Griffin Spielman, Alex Boyd, Tom O’Sullivan, Jack Blasch, Ryan Jennings, Emmanuel Kanellos, Carlton Edwards, Frazer Rae, Matt Pacheco, Dylan Nessenson, Elliot Frost, Connor O’Keefe, Sean Tomlinson, Spencer Marke, Eric Cerqueira and Pat Ragazzo.
SINGLE WING OFFENSE:
60-LT Michael Matarredona, senior, (6-2, 220)
70-LG Anthony Amatucci, senior, (5-10, 245)
71-C Sean Tomlinson, junior, (6-2, 250)
62-RT Dylan Nessenson, senior, (6-1, 185)
68-LG RJ Greeley, senior, (5-9, 190)
85-TE Jimmy Longo, junior, (6-2, 215)
15-WR Jensen Butler, senior, (6-2, 195)
5-WB PJ Jamolawicz, senior, (5-9, 170)
83-B Pat Ragazzo, senior, (6-1, 185)
34-HB Ryan Jennings, senior, (5-10, 195)
24-QB Pat Mahoney, senior, (6-0, 195)
17-QB John Wills, junior, (6-3, 195)
26-QB Alex Boyd, junior, (5-11, 180)
24-PK Pat Mahoney, senior, (6-0, 195)
Returning starters (4): Longo, Jamolawicz,
GL’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
71-LT Sean Tomlinson, junior, (6-2, 250)
70-RT Anthony Amatucci, senior, (5-10, 245)
85-LE Jimmy Longo, junior, (6-2, 215)
77-RE Spencer Marke, junior, (6-1, 235)
52-T Jeff McMahon, senior, (5-8, 235)
26-MLB Alex Boyd, junior, (5-11, 180)
17-OLB John Wills, junior, (6-3, 195)
34-OLB Ryan Jennings, senior, (5-10, 195)
4-SS Connor Lawrence, senior, (6-1, 185)
32-FS Tom O’Sullivan, senior, (6-0, 170)
5-LCB PJ Jamolawicz, senior, (5-9, 170)
44-RCB Frank Barone, junior, (5-9, 160)
Returning starters (7): Amatucci, Boyd,
Wills, Jennings, O’Sullivan, Jamolawicz,
GOV. LIVINGSTON HIGHLANDERS
Head coach: Dan Guyton, since 2013.
A 1998 Governor Livingston graduate.
Section: North 2, Group 3
GL’s last playoff season: 2009
2012: (2-8 and 1-4 in Mountain Division-fifth)
GL’s Frey Field: Field Turf.
Guyton was an assistant coach at Johnson the
past four seasons on head coach Mike Mancino’s
staff, including as the defensive coordinator
the last two. Before that he was an assistant coach
at GL for two years under head coach Joe Hubert
and five under head coach Terry Hanratty.
GL HIGHLANDERS 2013
Sept. 12 Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Voorhees, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 WarrenHills, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 Rahway, 2 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Hillside, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Johnson, 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 North Plainfield, 3 p.m.
Nov. 8 at Bernards, 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 New Providence, 11 a.m.
Head coach: Dan Guyton,
2012 GL HIGHLANDERS (2-8)
(A) Scotch Plains 20, Gov. Livingston 13
(H) Voorhees 35, Gov. Livingston 0
(A) WarrenHills 33, Gov. Livingston 22
(A) Rahway 41, Gov. Livingston 10
(H) Gov. Livingston 28, Hillside 7
(H) Johnson 36, Gov. Livingston 14
(A) North Plainfield 44, Gov. Livingston 13
(H) Bernards 42, GL 21 – at New Providence
(A) Gov. Livingston 41, Raritan 13
(A) New Providence 30, Gov. Livingston 20
Head coach: Gary Lubisco,
Section: North 2, Group 3
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Mountain 1-4
Points for: 182
Points against: 301