Cranford football preview: Cougars want good feeling at end this year

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Seniors, from left, Will Fries and Jack Schetelich, hope to lead Cranford to this year's North 2, Group 3 title. Fries will continue at Penn State and Schetelich at Villanova.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Seniors, from left, Will Fries and Jack Schetelich, hope to lead Cranford to this year’s North 2, Group 3 title. Fries will continue at Penn State and Schetelich at Villanova.

CRANFORD – For 11 weekends in a row last year Cranford came out victorious.

After getting a week off, the Cougars fell just short of a first-ever 12-0 mark.

Cranford, with a first-time 11-0 record, fell to first-time state champion Parsippany Hills 20-13 in last December’s North 2, Group 3 final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

The Cougars reached the Parsippany Hills 3-yard line on the game’s final possession, but fell just short of a game-tying touchdown and extra point.

So a program-record 11 wins and a first-ever 9-0 regular season could not be fully embraced. That’s because Cranford finished 11-1 and did not win its second state championship in four seasons.

“We went 11-0 and had a bad feeling,” said head coach Erik Rosenmeier, now in his 11th season at the helm of the Cougars. “We’ll use it as motivation.

“The kids understand that’s in the past and this is a new year.”

Returning quarterback Jack Schetelich, who has given a verbal commitment to continue playing in college at Villanova, dwelled on the game for a bit before putting it in perspective.

Schetelich scored Cranford’s second touchdown on a 91-yard run in the third quarter and at the game’s end threw three incomplete passes from inside the five.

“For two months that’s all I thought about,” Schetelich said. “Our game before against West Essex we had our best start ever. Parsippany Hills was very physical, the kind of team we had not seen before.”

Cranford won 10 of its 11 games last year by at least 17 points and won a division title inside the Mid-State 38 Conference for the first time, capturing the Raritan perfect at 6-0. Included was a first-time Mid-State 38 Conference win over Summit in six tries.

Penn State-bound senior two-way lineman Will Fries has moved on from the Parsippany Hills loss and is ready to get Cranford going again.

“We got so close and that is motivation to drive us this year,” the 6-6, 285-pound Fries said. “We have to put that stuff in the past.”

Schetelich continued, “the Parsippany Hills game taught us that we have to come out and play everyone tough. If we remember our assignments we have the potential again. We just have to focus on trying to go 1-0 every week.”

While Cranford is completely healthy and has seven players back in the mix on both offense and defense, Rosenmeier was not too pleased with what he saw in the pre-season, which concluded with Cranford’s game-scrimmage at home against Caldwell.

“In each of our scrimmages it took us a few series to get going,” Rosenmeier said. “I’m a little tired of it.

“The seniors have to step up like last year’s seniors did. They need to show some intensity.”

In a more-than-solid junior campaign last year, Schetelich passed for 1,548 yards and rushed for 1,388. He threw 18 touchdown passes and only four interceptions and rushed for 25 touchdowns.

“He’s an excellent runner first and passer second,” Rosenmeier said. “There’s a good balance there.”

One of the biggest players in Union County, Fries has – what Cranford hopes – is 12 games in front of him where he has a chance to dominate.

“Will’s bigger and a dominant run blocker,” Rosenmeier said. “He’s excellent on defense and will have to be double-teamed.”

Other key returning senior players include two-way lineman Kevin Doran, another big kid at 6-3, 265, and wide receiver-kicker Joe Norton.




RT Paul Esposito, senior, (6-0, 215)

RG Will Fries, senior, (6-6, 285)

C Michael Bellrose, senior, (5-9, 240)

LG Kevin Doran, senior, (6-3, 265)

LT Dylan Grady, senior, (6-1, 205)

T Anthony Ramirez, junior, (5-10, 235)

WR Joe Norton, senior, (5-10, 175)

WR Chris Szekeres, senior, (6-2, 175)

WR William Budries, senior, (5-10, 160)

SLOT Ryan Bakie, junior, (6-3, 185)

SLOT Sean Leonard, senior, (5-10, 165)

TB Brian McGovern, junior, (5-8, 170)

B Brian Oblchinski, junior, (5-9, 165)

B Sean Bryson, junior, (5-11, 170)

QB Jack Schetelich, senior, (6-2, 185)

PK Joe Norton, senior, (5-10, 175)

Returning starters (7): Fries, Bellrose,

Doran, Norton, Bakie, McGovern,




T Will Fries, senior, (6-6, 285)

T Kevin Doran, senior, (6-3, 265)

T Ethan Tom, senior (6-0, 225)

E Dylan Grady, senior, (6-1, 205)

E Paul Esposito, senior, (6-0, 215)

E Chris Kiame, senior, (5-10, 190)

E Thomas Armstrong, junior, (6-1, 190)

LB Niko Cappello, senior, (5-11, 195)

SLB Lucas Ramadan, senior, (6-2, 185)

SLB Sean Bryson, junior, (5-11, 170)

WLB Pat Hoey, junior, (5-8, 160)

WLB Dylan Budnik, sophomore, (6-2, 180)

S Chris Szekeres, senior, (6-2, 175)

S Brian McGovern, junior, (5-8, 170)

CB Sean Leonard, senior, (510, 160)

CB Ryan Bakie, junior, (6-3, 185)

CB Brian Oblchinski, junior, (5-9, 165)

P Joe Norton, senior, (5-10, 175)

Returning starters (7): Fries, Doran, Tom,

Cappello, Szekeres, Leonard, Bakie,


Head coach: Erik Rosenmeier, since 2005.

A 1983 Johnson Regional graduate.

11th season: 65-39 (.625)

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Raritan

Section: North 2, Group 3

Cranford’s last sectional title: 2011

2014: (11-1 and 6-0, first in Raritan Division)

Memorial Field: Field Turf.

Rosenmeier is the first coach in program history to

guide Cranford to four consecutive playoff appearances

and also four straight years of winning at least one

playoff game. He is also the only coach in program history

to lead the Cougars to a playoff championship, which was

the 2011 North 2, Group 3 crown.



Sept. 11 at Warren Hills, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 Somerville, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 Roselle, 7 p.m.

Oct. 3 at Summit, 2 p.m.

Oct. 9 at Voorhees, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 Hillside, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23 at Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 30 Gov. Livingston, 7 p.m.

Nov. 6 at North Plainfield, 7 p.m.

Head coach: Erik Rosenmeier,

11th season


2014 COUGARS (11-1)

(H) Cranford 45, Warren Hills 6

(A) Cranford 48, Somerville 12

(A) Cranford 35, Roselle 27

(H) Cranford 33, Summit 14

(H) Cranford 42, Voorhees 7

(A) Cranford 40, Hillside 6

(H) Cranford 35, Delaware Valley 18

(A) Cranford 30, Gov. Livingston 13

(H) Cranford 52, North Plainfield 20

(H) Cranford 46, North Plainfield 6

(H) Cranford 35, West Essex 7

(N) Parsippany Hills 20, Cranford 13

Head coach: Erik Rosenmeier,

10th season

Section: North 2, Group 3

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Raritan 6-0, champions

Record: 11-1

Home: 7-0

Away: 4-0

Neutral: 0-1

Points for: 454

Points against: 156

Shutouts: 0

Overtime: 0-0