RAHWAY – For the first time in over a decade the Indians did not challenge for a division crown or playoff berth last year, mostly due to the fact that the squad was very young as evidenced by seven sophomores in the mix.
After the team’s only win of the year against Hillside, the Indians played Summit, Governor Livingston and Ewing tough toward the end.
There are still several sophomores and even a freshman in the fold this season, but first-year head coach Brian Russo is optimistic that Rahway will show continued improvement.
“We’re young, but hungry,” Russo said. “We’re not small up front, but small elsewhere.”
Leading the Multiple-I offense is returning quarterback Zahir Wilder.
“Zahir is our playmaker,” Russo said.
In his team’s scrimmages, Russo said the Indians displayed an ability to run the ball on the outside.
“We need to improve stretching the field,” Russo said.
Being able to coach four-year starting lineman Edriece Patterson (6-3, 245) is everything Russo expected it would be.
“He’s really polished,” Russo said. “He has great wing span. We would like him to play with a little more of an angry streak.”
Patterson is the left tackle on offense and an end on defense.
“He has great technique and knowledge of the game,” Russo said. “He has hands and talent. He’s a great kid.”
A big loss on both lines is junior Marvin Pierre transferring to Mater Dei. Pierre was a two-way starter last year.
Other returning starters on offense in addition to Wilder and Patterson are junior left guard Marquise Muschett and junior wide receiver Justin Lacefield.
Defensively, Russo liked the way his team ran to the ball during the pre-season.
“We have a lot of team speed and can pressure the quarterback,” Russo said. “If our kids understand leverage and gap integrity, if they do that, they can be pretty efficient on defense.”
Rahway’s defense will be greatly challenged immediately when it opens at Roselle and has to find a way to limit returning southpaw junior quarterback Gerald Hairston III. Roselle also returns several of his favorite receivers for him to throw to.
“He’s a big kid and has great poise,” Russo said of Hairston. “He has good height (the size of his receivers) on the outside and he throws a real, nice ball.
“They have a lot of skill position players back. Our kids are really fired up.”
Russo said that junior Jordan West did not come out for football in order to concentrate on track.
Last year was the first year since 2009 that Rahway did not make the playoffs and it was only the second year since 2002 that the Indians failed to qualify.
The 2014 season was Rahway’s first under .500 since 2002, which was the year before Gary Mobley was promoted to head coach. Mobley and former Rahway assistant Jimmy Young are now assistants on John Power’s staff at Columbia.
C Jymar Anderson, freshman, (5-10, 245)
RG Farad Davis, junior, (6-0, 240)
RT Vincent Rogers, junior, (6-0, 250)
LG Marquise Muschett, junior, (6-0, 250)
LT Edriece Patterson, senior, (6-3, 245)
TE Fred Womble, senior, (6-2, 180)
TE AJ Smith, junior (5-10, 180)
FL Raul Torres, sophomore, (5-6, 150)
WR Quadreek Strickland, junior, (5-10, 170)
WR Justin Lacefield, junior, (5-6, 150)
QB Zahir Wilder, junior, (6-0, 180)
RB TJ Anderson, junior, (5-9, 180)
RB Nasir Velez, junior, (5-6, 155)
B-PK Bernard Howell, junior, (5-10, 175)
Returning starters (4): Patterson, Muschett,
RAHWAY’S 4-4 DEFENSE:
E Edriece Patterson, senior, (6-3, 245)
T Marquise Muschett, junior, (6-0, 250)
T Vincent Rogers, junior, (6-0, 250)
E Jaquan Johnson, junior, (6-3, 245)
ILB Dominick Williams, sophomore, (6-0, 180)
ILB Bernard Howell, junior, (5-10, 175)
OLB Keymann Coleman, sophomore, (5-9, 160)
OLB Quadreek Strickland, junior, (5-10, 170)
OLB Nacobi Collins, sophomore, (5-8, 160)
CB Raul Torres, sophomore, (5-6, 150)
CB Justin Lacefield, junior, (5-6, 150)
CB Nasir Velez, junior, (5-6, 155)
S Jahmad Ellis, senior, (6-0, 150)
S Zahir Wilder, junior, (6-0, 180)
P Bernard Howell, junior, (5-10, 175)
Returning starters (3): Patterson,
Head coach: Brian Russo, since 2015.
A 1996 Woodbridge graduate.
Conference: Mid-State 38
Section: Central Jersey, Group 3
Rahway’s last sectional title: 1984
2014: (1-9 and 1-4, fifth in Mountain Division)
Veterans Field: Grass.
Russo’s nine-season (2003-2011) record at Woodbridge
was 48-45 (.516), including three winning seasons,
three .500 campaigns, five playoff seasons
and two playoff victories, both coming on the road.
Russo guided his first and last Woodbridge squads
to 8-3 marks, with the 2011 team – as the sixth seed –
winning at third-seeded Burlington Township 24-21
in a Central Jersey, Group 3 quarterfinal. Presently a
special education teacher at Iselin Middle School,
Russo was a standout player in college at Wagner. He
moved up to head coach from assistant at Woodbridge
over a decade ago. As a sophomore at Woodbridge he
played on the Barons team that captured the 1993
Central Jersey, Group 4 championship. Russo served
as the Woodbridge school district’s supervisor of
guidance and special education during the two years,
2012 and 2013, which he did not coach. He was an
assistant at Hightstown last year.
RAHWAY INDIANS 2015
Sept. 12 at Roselle, 1 p.m.
Sept. 19 Warren Hills, 1 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Hillside, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Bernards, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 Voorhees, 1 p.m.
Oct. 31 Summit, 1 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Gov. Livingston, 2 p.m.
Nov. 26 Johnson, 10:30 a.m.
Head coach: Brian Russo,
2014 INDIANS (1-9)
(H) Roselle 33, Rahway 7
(A) Warren Hills 35, Rahway 13
(H) Rahway 35, Hillside 12
(H) Bernards 35, Rahway 13
(H) Delaware Valley 49, Rahway 14
(A) Voorhees 31, Rahway 14
(A) Summit 30, Rahway 20
(H) Gov. Livingston 21, Rahway 7
(A) Ewing 14, Rahway 7
(A) Johnson 35, Rahway 16
Head coach: Gary Mobley,
Section: Central Jersey, Group 3
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Mountain 1-4
Points for: 146
Points against: 295