CLARK – With a new head coach and starting quarterback in place, the Crusaders hope to build upon last year’s season-ending three-game winning streak.
Last year’s special teams coordinator and also the coach of the defensive linemen, linebackers and fullbacks, Anthony DelConte – a 2006 Johnson graduate – can’t wait for the opening game of his first season at the helm.
“I knew I wanted to come back and coach after college,” said DelConte, 26, who was an assistant coach on head coach Mike Mancino’s staff the past three seasons after playing in college at FDU-Florham.
DelConte played at FDU-Florham at the same time as another new UnionCounty head coach, Jason Glezman. Also 26 and a 2006 Mater Dei graduate, Glezman was a teammate of DelConte’s at FDU-Florham. Glezman took over this year as the head coach at Plainfield.
“Jason and I are good friends and I know he will give it his all there,” DelConte said.
A fullback, defensive end and linebacker at Johnson and a defensive end and linebacker in college, DelConte is the middle of three brothers that played for the Crusaders. Older brother Albert, a 2003 graduate, played fullback and linebacker and was a senior on the 2002 team that won at defending champion West Essex to capture the North 2, Group 2 championship. Younger brother Joe, a 2008 graduate who was a running back, linebacker and kicker, played on the 2007 team, which was the first to play on the new field turf at Nolan Field.
Entering his fourth year as a teacher of mathematics at Johnson and also an assistant coach for the winter and spring track teams, DelConte owes a lot to Mancino for his start in coaching football.
“Coach Mancino gave me an opportunity to bring me on his staff and everything worked out,” DelConte said. “I love the game and want to give the kids the same experience that I had when I played and went through the program.
“I want them to experience the same things I did, like having a great mentor and great memories with their football brothers. I always wanted to give back.”
Taking over the reigns at quarterback vacated by 2014 graduate Vin Fischetti is returning offensive starter Jimmy West, who was a wideout a year ago.
“Jimmy’s a tough kid and the one thing about him is that he’s very athletic,” DelConte said. “He’ll be able to make plays for us. This is his first year at quarterback, but not as a starter.
“He’s showing what he can do now and he can make people miss. He has some pretty good talents that you can’t teach.”
Other impact players on offense include senior linemen Mike Labianca, Andrew Lameira and Jacob Lopez.
“We have a big front line and it starts with those guys,” DelConte said. “Justin (Falke) and Drew (Shannon), our other two linemen, are big, strong kids too.”
Fullback Matt Pedicine and split end Mark Barranger are two options opposing defenses will have to bear down on.
“Matt was a force to be reckoned with in years past,” DelConte said. “He’s a strong kid and a motivator. He wants to win and he’s tenacious and plays hard.
“Mark is a big target at split end. We just have to get the ball in his area. He’s big and fights for the ball.”
Labianca is one of five returning starters on defense, a leader at middle linebacker.
“He’s our captain,” DelConte said. “He works his tail off and will look to make some plays for us defensively.”
Barranger and fellow senior Jason Brougham, on the corners, will seek to prevent long pass completions.
“They can both lock up people and can play the run pretty well,” DelConte said. “They’re both good leaders.”
A head coach for the first time, DelConte has been counting down the days until tomorrow when the Crusaders open at Bernards.
“This is a dream come true, it really is,” DelConte said. “Not many people can say that they are a head coach back at their alma mater.
“I’m anxious, excited and can’t wait for us to open up. Every day that goes by I get more excited.
“The kids are great and the community is great. I’m on cloud nine and feel like I’m floating.”
JOHNSON’S OPTION OFFENSE:
LT Justin Falke, junior, (6-3, 225)
LG Drew Shannon, junior, (6-3, 265)
C Mike Labianca, senior, (6-1, 225)
RG Andrew Lameira, senior, (6-1, 240)
RT Jacob Lopez, senior, (6-0, 210)
QB Jimmy West, senior, (6-1, 175)
FB Matt Pedicine, senior, (5-10, 210)
RB Jason Brougham, senior, (6-0, 175)
RB Andrew Sanchez, junior, (5-9, 160)
SE Mark Barranger, senior, (6-3, 180)
TE Jake Burkert, senior, (6-1, 200)
PK Mitch Becker, junior, (6-1, 170)
Returning starters (6): Labianca, Lameira,
West, Barranger, Pedicine, Becker.
JOHNSON’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
E Justin Falke, junior, (6-3, 225)
T Andrew Lameira, senior, (6-1, 240)
T Brett Roessle, sophomore, (6-2, 245)
E Jacob Lopez, senior, (6-0, 210)
LB Matt Pedicine, senior, (5-10, 210)
MLB Mike Labianca, senior, (6-1, 225)
LB Wes Giannobile, junior, (6-1, 185)
C Jason Brougham, senior, (6-0, 175)
C Mark Barranger, senior (6-3, 180)
FS Jimmy West, senior, (6-1, 175)
SS Anthony Rizzuto, junior, (5-10, 180)
P Mark Barranger, senior, (6-3, 180)
Returning starters (5): Lopez, Pedicine,
Labianca, West, Rizzuto.
Head coach: Anthony DelConte, since 2014.
A 2006 Johnson graduate.
Conference: Mid-State 38
Section: Central Jersey, Group 2
Johnson’s last sectional title: 2002
2013: (5-5 and 3-3, third in Raritan Division)
Nolan Field in Clark: Field Turf.
DelConte was an assistant at Johnson the past
three seasons under head coach Mike Mancino.
When DelConte played at Johnson, Bob Taylor was
in his last year as head coach in 2002, Mike Katz
was the head coach in 2003 and present athletic director
Gus Kalikas was the head coach in 2004 and 2005.
JOHNSON CRUSADERS 2014
Sept. 12 at Bernards, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 Voorhees, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 DelawareValley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Gov. Livingston, 3 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Roselle, 1 p.m.
Oct. 24 Hillside, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Belvidere, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 Somerville, 7 p.m.
Nov. 27 Rahway, 10 a.m.
Head coach: Anthony DelConte,
2013 CRUSADERS (5-5)
(H) Johnson 34, North Plainfield 21
(H) Summit 48, Johnson 23
(A) Hillside 30, Johnson 27
(A) Roselle 20, Johnson 13
(H) Gov. Livingston 24, Johnson 14
(H) Johnson 24, Somerville 0
(A) Cranford 26, Johnson 10
(H) Johnson 37, DelawareValley 28
(H) Johnson 35, Point Pleasant Boro 21
(A) Johnson 27, Rahway 14
Head coach: Mike Mancino
Section:Central Jersey, Group 2
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division:Raritan 3-3, third
Points for: 224
Points against: 232