Rahway football preview – Indians are young, but still seek to rise to the occasion

RAHWAY – Over the years under head coach Gary Mobley’s tenure – with this being his 11th season at the helm – Rahway has lost many talented players to graduation, but has still has found a way to win the next season.

The Indians are in a similar predicament this year.

The only returning starters – and it’s the same on both sides of the ball – are junior Edriece Patterson and seniors Brandon Royal, Sean Twerdak and Tyler West.

With seven sophomores in the starting lineup, four of them on both offense and defense, Rahway has a very youthful look.

“We’re very, very young,” Mobley said. “We have experience on the offensive line and up the middle on defense, but we’re very raw and young at the skill positions and peremiter defense.

“Still, our expectations are high as always and we expect to rise to the occasion.”

Replacing since-graduated Jeffery Bost at quarterback is sophomore Zahir Wilder.

“He’s a dual-threat QB,” Mobley said. “He has a very live arm and also has the ability to make something happen when the play breaks down.”

Wilder was the quarterback on the freshman team last year.

“He kind of fits the mold of the quarterbacks we’ve had in the past,” Mobley said. “We felt comfortable about him and his prospects.

“Being able to run and throw the ball will serve him well if he can stay composed and take what the defense gives him.”

Patterson, a starter since his freshman season on the offensive line and a full-time starter on the defensive line since the beginning of last year, is right now becoming a dominant presence in the middle.

“We think the world of him,” Mobley said. “He has an unbelievable ceiling. His leadership and the example he sets every day is very much needed. We expect big things from him on both sides of the ball.”

Tyler West will be tough to bring down running out of the backfield and just as tough to get past on defense when he sprints at a runner from his middle linebacker position.

“He has the overall experience and versatility that we’re fortunate to have,” Mobley said. “He sets a great example for our younger guys as far as leadership and responsibility.

“We expect him to be his steady self in the middle of our defense and solidify that unit.”

Twerdak will also be heavily relied upon to provide leadership as one of the more experienced players.

“He’s another steady program kid that we absolutely count on,” Mobley said. “He’s one of the first guys in the lockerroom and the last guy out.”

Patterson, West and Twerdak were named team captains.

“One of them, Twerdak, at center is the captain of our offense,” Mobley said. “We will also need his steady play in our 4-4 defense.”

This is what Rahway’s been working on to improve defensively, according to Mobley, “our base fundamentals, our system and the game itself. We took our time with our new guys to try to keep things simple. We want to let their talent show.”

 

SEASON 11 STILL VERY EXCITING FOR MOBLEY

 

Mobley can’t wait, which is what you want to hear a coach say after the years begin to add up.

“I still get a good feeling for my first day of camp and still enjoy all the things that go with being a coach,” Mobley said. “It’s a blessing.”

Promoted to head coach in 2004 after being an assistant coach for the Indians, Mobley has guided Rahway to nine winning seasons and nine playoff campaigns in his first 10 years at the helm.

“It’s funny how the seasons stack up on one another so rapidly,” Mobley said.

The only year Rahway did not make the playoffs was in 2009 when it fell short of having enough power points in Central Jersey, Group 2 with a 5-3 record at the cutoff date. Rahway won its final six games that season to finish 7-3.

The only non-winning season was two years ago when the Indians finished 5-5, falling in the North 2, Group 3 quarterfinals. Rahway’s playoff record under Mobley is 8-9, including a trip to the North 2, Group 3 final in 2008 and semifinal appearances six other seasons.

Rahway has never had a losing season under his guidance.

“That’s true, but we still have work to do which means attaining that elusive state title,” Mobley said. “We’re fortunate to have enough talent in the pool in the city of Rahway.

“We’re just trying to be consistent with our system, year in and year out trying to teach the best fundamentals.

“We want to keep working on our craft. We believe that hard work works.”

Not only is this the 30th anniversary of Rahway’s third and last state championship in the playoff era – the Indians won North 2, Group 3 for the third time in seven seasons in 1984 – but it’s also the 30th anniversary of Mobley’s junior season at Union when, in 1984, the Farmers captured their fourth playoff championship in North 2, Group 4, but first undefeated – finishing 11-0 for the first time in program history.

 

A THIRD DIFFERENT SECTION FOR MOBLEY TO MULL OVER

 

Mobley loves nothing more – nod, nod, wink, wink – than looking up and seeing his Indians situated in a different section.

For the first time Rahway is in Central Jersey, Group 3 after bouncing back and forth between North 2, Group 3 and Central Jersey, Group 2 since the NJSIAA began reclassification in 2003.

Before that, Rahway went from being in North 2, Group 3 to North 2, Group 2. As a result of seeing its enrollment drop, Rahway got out of the Watchung Conference and moved to the smaller Mountain Valley.

Rahway’s year-by-year enrollment figures continue to swirl, with the state placing the Indians in Group 3 one year and in Group 2 the next. When the state went to a Group 5 section for the four public sections two years ago, it initially placed Rahway in North 2, Group 4 before the revision dropped the Indians back down to North 2, Group 3.

Rahway is in a different section for the third straight year.

“I don’t understand how the numbers change,” said Mobley, with Rahway’s enrollment this year listed by the NJSIAA at 732, which is the lowest of the 15 teams situated in Central Jersey, Group 3.

“I don’t know of any other team in the state that changes sections so often,” Mobley said. “We can only go out there and compete and now this year we have to do it in Central Jersey, Group 3. We’ll be pioneering new territory I guess.”

 

MUCH ANTICIPATED NEW SPORTS COMPLEX IS IN

THE WORKS TO BE READY BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR

Through partnerships with the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Rahway School Board of Education, the City of Rahway will begin upgrading and improving the playing fields at Rahway River Park, Green Field and the park behind Madison School this year, it was reported in the spring.

That means that a field turf field for football and soccer, with lights and a track around it, is in the works to be ready for the 2015 fall season.

“That’s what they’re saying,” Mobley said. “There will also be concession stands, a press box and seating for 5,200 people.”

 

Here’s the breakdown as how it’s being advertised:

 

* Proposed Rahway River Park: track, soccer and football field,

with the project beginning this year.

 

* Proposed High School Park: tennis and basketball courts and

softball field, with the project beginning this year.

 

* Proposed Greenfield Park: T-Ball, football, soccer

And rugby fields, with the project beginning next year.

 

“To have a football field with field turf and lights would be great,” said Mobley, who has had to take his team several times to play home games at Johnson High School’s Nolan Field in Clark in recent years because of flooding at Veterans Field caused by hurricanes Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012. “It would be something that we would definitely look forward to and embrace.”

Here’s what Rahway Mayor Samson B. Steinman was quoted as saying, “with these improvements, the City of Rahway will be home to state of the art regulation sized basketball, football, baseball, softball, rugby, soccer and track facilities. We will certainly be the envy of our neighbors.”

 

RAHWAY’S MULTIPLE OFFENSE:

LT Edriece Patterson, junior, (6-3, 230)

LG Brandon Royal, senior, (6-1, 275)

C Sean Twerdak, senior, (5-11, 200)

RG Marquise Muschett, sophomore, (6-0, 255)

RT Nadir McLaurin, senior, (6-0, 270)

TE Marvin Pierre, sophomore (6-1, 190)

FL Jordan Scott, sophomore, (5-8, 150)

WR Justin Lacefield, sophomore, (5-8, 150)

QB Zahir Wilder, sophomore, (6-0, 160)

FB Tyler West, senior, (5-11, 225)

TB Majid Abdur-Rahman, senior, (5-9, 175)

PK Franklin Zelaya, sophomore, (5-10, 150)

Returning starters (4): Patterson, Twerdak, Royal, West.

 

RAHWAY’S 4-4 DEFENSE:

E Edriece Patterson, junior, (6-3, 230)

T Nadir McLaurin, senior, (6-0, 270)

T Brandon Royal, senior, (6-1, 275)

E Marvin Pierre, sophomore, (6-1, 190)

MLB Tyler West, senior, (5-11, 225)

MLB Sean Twerdak, senior, (5-11, 200)

OLB Majid Abdur-Rahman, senior, (5-9, 175)

OLB Zahir Wilder, sophomore, (6-0, 160)

CB Jordan Scott, sophomore, (5-8, 150)

CB Justin Lacefield, sophomore, (5-8, 150)

FS Terrance Anderson, sophomore, (5-8, 170)

Returning starters: (4): Patterson, Royal, West, Twerdak.

 

RAHWAY INDIANS

Head coach: Gary Mobley, since 2004.

A 1986 Union graduate.

11th season: 73-35 (.676)

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Mountain

Section: Central Jersey, Group 3

Rahway’s last sectional title: 1984

2013: (7-4 and 4-1, second in Mountain Division)

Veterans Field: Grass.

Mobley has guided the Indians to the playoffs nine times

in his first 10 seasons at the helm of the Indians, including

the 2008 North 2, Group 3 final. He has also led Rahway

to nine winning seasons and one .500 campaign. The Indians

have never had a losing season under his tenure.

 

RAHWAY INDIANS 2014

Sept. 13 Roselle, 1:30 p.m.

Sept. 19 at Warren Hills, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 Hillside, 1 p.m.

Oct. 4 Bernards, 1 p.m.

Oct. 11 Delaware Valley, 1 p.m.

Oct. 17 at Voorhees, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Summit, 2 p.m.

Nov. 8 Gov. Livingston, 2 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Johnson, 10 a.m.

Head coach: Gary Mobley,

11th season

 

2013 INDIANS (7-4)

(A) Rahway 27, Hillside 13

(H) Rahway 26, Delaware Valley 6

(A) Rahway 34, Scotch Plains 10

(A) Rahway 35, Gov. Livingston 0

(H) Summit 26, Rahway 20

(H) Warren Hills 33, Rahway 27 (OT)

(H) Rahway 28, Voorhees 0

(A) Rahway 34, Roselle 7

(H) Rahway 47, Spotswood 20

(A) Rumson-Fair Haven 28, Rahway 21

(H) Johnson 27, Rahway 14

Head coach: Gary Mobley,

10th season

Section: Central Jersey, Group 2

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Mountain 4-1

Record: 7-4

Home: 3-3

Away: 4-1

Points for: 313

Points against: 170

Shutouts: 2

Overtime: 0-1

 

 

CENTRAL JERSEY, GROUP 3 for 2014 (15 schools): Carteret, Ewing, Hamilton North, Hamilton West, Holmdel, Hopewell Valley Central, Lawrence, Long Branch, Matawan, Ocean Township, Rahway, Raritan, Red Bank Regional, Somerville, South Plainfield.

 

 

WHERE RAHWAY FOOTBALL HAS BEEN SITUATED SINCE

THE NJSIAA BEGAN RECLASSIFICATION IN 2003:

 

2014: Central Jersey, Group 3

 

2013: Central Jersey, Group 2 – reached semifinals

 

2012: North 2, Group 3 – reached quarterfinals

 

2011: Central Jersey, Group 2 – reached quarterfinals

 

2010: North 2, Group 3 – reached semifinals

 

2009: Central Jersey, Group 2 – did not qualify

 

2008: North 2, Group 3 – reached final

 

2007: Central Jersey, Group 2 – reached semifinals

 

2006: Central Jersey, Group 2 – reached semifinals

 

2005: Central Jersey, Group 2 – reached semifinals

 

2004: Central Jersey, Group 2 – reached semifinals

 

2003: Central Jersey, Group 2 – did not qualify

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