SPRINGFIELD – Qualities that you want in your quarterback include: smarts, athleticism, the ability to throw the ball down field and guidance.
In the eyes of first-year head coach Dominic Cuniglio, returning senior John Apicella possesses all of those traits and more.
“John is very intelligent, mobile and is getting a good understanding of our offense and what we’re trying to do,” Cuniglio said. “He’s a good leader and has a strong arm.”
Apicella is one of six returning starters on offense, while there are five more on defense as the Bulldogs seek to rebound from a rough 2-8 season a year ago.
Cuniglio, an assistant coach at Nottingham last year after coaching at Union the previous two seasons, is a full-fledged head coach for the first time. He became the interim head coach at Union in 2012 after head coach Brian Sheridan took a leave of absence.
“I have a feel for this team, these kids have taken to what we’re doing,” Cuniglio said. “They’re focused, motivated and want to be successful.
“They show up every day and do what we ask of them. We started a weight room program and they have been in there five days a week.”
In addition to Apicella on offense, senior John Turner returns at tailback.
“He’s going to be a force,” Cuniglio said. “He’s a big, physical player, with speed.”
Wideouts include seniors Mike Iuliano and TJ Kanarek, both returning starters, and juniors Noah Goldberg and Brian Martin.
“I like our receiving corps,” Cuniglio said. “Goldberg is going to be a big for us at 6-3 and will pose some matchup problems for people.”
With all five guys on the line new, “but working very hard and getting better,” according to Cuniglio, it’s the skill position players that will take the lead.
“Our receiving corps and our quarterback have experience,” Cuniglio said. “We have seniors returning there that saw time last year.”
One move on defense was switching junior Saverio Salcfas, a returning starter, to end. He started at linebacker last year.
“He will definitely be tough to handle,” Cuniglio said. “(Brendan) Burke (a senior) is playing very well right now at linebacker.”
Also in a different position is returning starter Iuliano, who last year was in the secondary and this year is now at the other end position.
“We’ve asked him to put his hands down,” Cuniglio said. “(Andrew) Lashuk is our Sam linebacker and has become the point man on our defense. He’s asked to do a lot of different things.
“Our strength on defense is our linebacking corps. On the lines is the part of the team we lack depth at right now.”
Dayton’s final tuneup will be its game-scrimmage, which is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. at Keyport.
DAYTON’S SPREAD OFFENSE:
LT Andrew Martin, junior, (5-10, 185)
LG Mike Evans, junior, (5-9, 225)
C Billy Kastner, junior, (5-9, 230)
RG Saverio Salcfas, senior, (5-8, 220)
RT Andrew Liebowitz, junior, (6-4, 280)
TE Andrew Lashuk, senior, (6-0, 180)
QB John Apicella, senior, (5-8, 170)
TB John Turner, senior, (6-0, 205)
RB Dave Maneiro, junior, (5-7, 160)
RB Brendan Burke, senior, (5-6, 150)
WR Mike Iuliano, senior, (5-9, 160)
WR TJ Kanarek, senior, (5-7, 155)
WR Noah Goldberg, junior, (6-3, 175)
WR Brian Martin, junior, (5-7, 155)
PK Andrew Lashuk, senior, (6-0, 180)
Returning starters (6): Salcfas, Iuliano,
Kanarek, Apicella, Turner, Lashuk.
DAYTON’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
E Saverio Salcfas, senior, (5-8, 220)
E Mike Iuliano, senior, (5-9, 160)
T Alex Verducci, senior, (5-9, 285)
T Justin Torain, junior, (5-9, 200)
LB Andrew Lashuk, senior, (6-0, 180)
LB John Turner, senior, (6-0, 205)
LB Brendan Burke, senior, (5-6, 150)
CB Brian Martin, junior, (5-7, 155)
CB Tyler Koref, junior, (5-7, 150)
S Noah Lyle, junior, (6-0, 160)
S Dave Maneiro, junior, (5-7, 160)
P Noah Goldberg, junior, (6-3, 175)
Returning starters (5): Salcfas, Iuliano,
Lashuk, Turner, Burke.
Head Coach: Dominic Cuniglio, since 2014.
A 1993 Steinert graduate.
Conference: Mid-State 38
Section: North 2, Group 1
Dayton’s last playoff season: 2012
2013: (2-8 and 1-3, fourth in Union Division)
Dayton‘s second-year complex: Field Turf.
Cuniglio was the interim head coach at Union
in 2012 – leading the Farmers to a 5-4 playoff
season – after serving as the offensive coordinator
there in 2011. He was then an assistant coach at
Nottingham last year. Cuniglio returns to coaching in
UnionCounty as a full-fledged head coach for the
first time in his coaching career.
DAYTON BULLDOGS 2014
Sept. 13 at Hillside, 2 p.m.
Sept. 19 Bound Brook, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 Brearley, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Belvidere, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at South Hunterdon, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 New Providence, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 RosellePark, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Manville, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Pingry, 7 p.m.
Head coach: Dominick Cuniglio,
2013 BULLDOGS (2-8)
(H) Bernards 33, Dayton 0
(H) Dayton 55, Bound Brook 28
(A) New Providence 51, Dayton 0
(A) Brearley 39, Dayton 13
(H) Dayton 24, Belvidere 17
(A) Pingry 31, Dayton 0
(H) South Hunterdon 48, Dayton 13
(H) RosellePark 56, Dayton 7
(A) Manville 20, Dayton 0
(A) Emerson Boro 46, Dayton 14
Head coach: Steve Trivino,
Section: North 2, Group 1
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Union 1-3, fourth
Points for: 126
Points against: 369