Johnson football preview: Crusaders preach value of being a team player

PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHNSON HIGH SCHOOL - The 2015 Crusaders seek to improve upon last year's 5-5 mark.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHNSON HIGH SCHOOL – The 2015 Crusaders seek to improve upon last year’s 5-5 mark.

CLARK – What second-year head coach Anthony DelConte is preaching is: “the value of being a team player and watching out for your brother.”

Those traits are just as important as making a tackle or scoring a touchdown as far as being a Johnson High School football player goes.

“We are one as a team here, a family,” DelConte said. “This year we want to have that kind of team unity right from the start.”

Last year Johnson began 0-3, but the losses to Bernards, Voorhees and Delaware Valley were by a combined total of just 14 points. Bernards finished 8-2, Voorhees 6-4 and Delaware Valley 7-4, with the Terriers reaching the Central Jersey, Group 2 final for their first-ever appearance in a state championship game.

Johnson hung in there despite the rough start and turned an eventual 1-4 season into a playoff berth in CJ, G2 by putting together three straight wins. After falling to eventual and repeat CJ, G2 champion Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals, Johnson rebounded by downing Rahway 35-16 at home on Thanksgiving for a 5-5 finish.

Needless to say, Johnson seeks to get out of the gate a bit quicker in 2015.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” DelConte said.

Leading the triple-option offense is senior quarterback Anthony Rizzuto, who was behind center when last season concluded.

“Anthony is much better, he’s a die-hard kid,” DelConte said. “He’s more mature, bigger, stronger, faster and knows the offense, which is half the battle.

“Whatever we can do to win is how we run the offense we run.”

Johnson gave up 180 points in 10 games last year, which isn’t that bad. This year’s defense includes the following returning starters: senior end Justin Falke, junior tackle Brett Roessele, senior middle linebacker Wes Giannobile, junior cornerback Jon Duffy and Rizzuto at strong safety.

“Our defense was okay (in the pre-season),” DelConte said. “We have to improve on being together. We struggled a bit in the beginning last year.”

Johnson blanked Somerville 43-0 at home last November to earn its playoff spot. The first win of the season was a 28-21 overtime triumph at Governor Livingston, which also finished 5-5 after concluding with a three-game winning streak.




LT Mike Brennan, junior, (5-10, 180)

LG Brett Roessele, junior, (6-1, 250)

C Matt Englese, senior, (5-10, 190)

RG Drew Shannon, senior, (6-3, 280)

RT Justin Falke, senior, (6-1, 230)

TE Wes Giannobile, senior, (6-0, 180)

SE Ryan Koppel, junior, (5-9, 170)

RB Andrew Sanchez, senior, (5-9, 150)

RB Jon Duffy, junior, (5-9, 150)

QB Anthony Rizzuto, senior, (5-10, 180)

FB Eddie Bergin, senior, (5-10, 180)

PK Mike Casalino, sophomore, (5-4, 120)

Returning starters (5): Shannon, Falke,

Giannobile, Duffy, Rizzuto.



E Justin Falke, senior, (6-1, 230)

T Brett Roessele, junior, (6-1, 250)

T Drew Shannon, senior, (6-2, 280)

E Sebastian Palacious, senior, (5-10, 180)

MLB Wes Giannobile, senior, (6-0, 180)

SLB Eddie Bergin, senior, (5-10, 180)

LB Joe Turek, sophomore, (5-10, 180)

CB-P Jon Duffy, junior, (5-9, 150)

FS Andrew Sanchez, senior, (5-9, 150)

SS Anthony Rizzuto, senior, (5-10, 180)

CB Ryan Koppel, junior, (5-9, 170)

Returning starters (5): Falke, Roessele,

Giannobile, Rizzuto, Duffy.



Head coach: Anthony DelConte, since 2014.

A 2006 Johnson graduate.

Second season: 5-5 (.500).

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Mountain

Section: Central Jersey, Group 2

Johnson’s last sectional title: 2002

2014: (5-5 and 2-3, third in Mountain Division)

Nolan Field in Clark: Field Turf.

DelConte guided Johnson to a playoff berth

in Central Jersey, Group 2 last year, with the

Crusaders coming back from a 0-3 start that

saw them lose their first three games by a

combined total of 14 points. DelConte was an

assistant at Johnson in 2011, 2012 and 2013

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.



Sept. 11 Bernards, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18 at Voorhees, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2 Gov. Livingston, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16 Roselle, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 at Hillside, 2 p.m.

Oct. 30 Belvidere, 7 p.m.

Nov. 6 at Somerville, 7 p.m.

Nov. 26 at Rahway, 10:30 a.m.

Head coach: Anthony DelConte,

second season


2014 CRUSADERS (5-5)

(A) Bernards 14, Johnson 7

(H) Voorhees 32, Johnson 26

(H) Delaware Valley 21, Johnson 20

(A) Johnson 28, Gov. Livingston 21 (OT)

(A) Roselle 20, Johnson 7

(H) Johnson 35, Hillside 7

(A) Johnson 28, Belvidere 14

(H) Johnson 43, Somerville 0

(A) Rumson-Fair Haven 35, Johnson 7

(H) Johnson 35, Rahway 16

Head coach: Anthony DelConte,

first season

Section: Central Jersey, Group 2

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Mountain 2-3

Record: 5-5

Home: 3-2

Away: 2-3

Points for: 236

Points against: 180

Shutouts: 1

Overtime: 1-0