SUMMIT FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Hilltoppers full of new faces except for at QB

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Quarterback Jackson Tyler, at left, and wide receiver DJ Jackson – both returning players – hooked up to complete a big fourth down play late at Governor Livingston which enabled Summit to capture a big road game a year ago.

SUMMIT – There are a lot of new faces, with only four returning starters on offense and five on defense.
However, both quarterbacks return, with each of them having started a year ago when Summit came within a game of playing for the North 2, Group 4 state championship.
Those junior signal-callers include Jackson Tyler and Skylar Schluter.
“Both bring different things,” fifth-year head coach Kevin Kostibos said. “Jackson is more of a thrower and Skyler more of a passer.”
Both filled in admirably when senior Jake Froschauer was injured. Summit went on to score 308 points, including a 42-7 first round home playoff win over Colonia.
“Both can find ways to win games for us,” Kostibos said. “We have a lot of young guys, but we think we can be explosive. What we set out to do is to do very well.”
Returning starters on offense include senior center Kevin Cahill, senior wide receiver Max Hayford and Tyler and Schluter.
DJ Jackson, a senior, came on strong last year and is a threat at wide receiver. He is also a solid punter.
Stephen Sajer, also a senior, has moved from wide receiver to running back and is one of Summit’s top players on both sides of the ball.
On defense, Summit has switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3, seeking to get a bit more immediate pressure on the quarterback.
“We have young guys here too that seek experience,” Kostibos said. “We have a bend-but-don’t-break mentality still and we know it will take the players some time to learn the new scheme.”
Returning starters on defense include senior linemen Peter Maldonado and Joe Shepard, Sajer at linebacker, senior Andrew Miller at linebacker and Luca Curran at safety.
The Hilltoppers are back in North 2, Group 3 this year, along with fellow Union County schools Cranford, Rahway and Governor Livingston, all Summit opponents this season.
“Our entire focus is on North Hunterdon,” said Kostibos of the team Summit opens with for the second straight season. “As for going back to that section, it has a nice feel. We know the teams that are in there.”
Summit has the best record of any team in Union County this decade, with a mark of 67-11 (.859) that includes back-to-back 12-0 seasons in which the Hilltoppers captured the North 2, Group 3 state championship in 2012 and 2013.
Summit has qualified for the state playoffs the last nine seasons: 2008-2016.
Rewind to 2016: One of Summit’s biggest plays last year was the fourth down pass completion thrown by Jackson Tyler to DJ Jackson late in Summit’s non-division game at Governor Livingston, played on a Friday night in Berkeley Heights.
Summit went on to score a TD after the pass – which covered 41 yards – that Jackson jumped up to grab, falling on his back. The Hilltoppers won 28-21.




L Joe Shepard, senior, (6-3, 225)

L Harry Walsh, junior, (6-5, 220)

L Jack Hedges, junior, (5-9, 200)

C Kevin Cahill, senior, (6-3, 215)

L Hunter Timpson, junior, (5-11, 200)

L Dominic Yorio, junior, (6-4, 215)

L David Axtel, junior, (6-4, 200)

QB Jackson Tyler, junior, (6-2, 190)

QB Skyler Schluter, junior, (6-0, 150)

RB Tyrone Hines, junior, (5-7, 150)

RB Stephen Sajer, senior, (5-11, 180)

RB Max Jackson, junior, (6-2, 200)

WR Max Hayford, senior, (5-11, 160)

WR DJ Jackson, senior, (6-4, 175

WR Andrew Miller, senior, (6-1, 180)

PK Will Goldy, senior, (6-0, 175)

Returning starters (4): Cahill, Tyler,

Schluter, Hayford.



L Peter Maldonado, senior, (6-4, 230)

L Joe Shepard, senior, (6-3, 225)

L Miles Dewald, senior, (5-11, 220)

L Ryan Reigle, junior, (6-1, 200)

LB Stephen Sajer, senior, (5-11, 180)

MLB Hunter Timpson, junior, (5-11, 200)

LB Andrew Miller, senior, (6-1, 180)

S Luca Curran, senior, (6-1, 180)

S Jack Kelly, junior, (5-11, 180)

CB Tyrone Hines, junior, (5-7, 150)

CB Joe Lusardi, sophomore, (5-11, 160)

P DJ Jackson, senior, (6-4, 175)

Returning starters (5): Maldonado, Shepard,

Sajer, Miller, Curran.



Head Coach: Kevin Kostibos, since 2013.

A 1999 Hanover Park graduate.

Fifth season: 35-9 (.796)

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Raritan

Section: North 2, Group 3

Summit’s last sectional title: 2013

2016: (8-3 and 4-0, outright Raritan Division champs)

Tatlock Field: Field Turf.

Kostibos guided Summit to the North 2, Group 3

semifinals his first two seasons at the helm of the

Hilltoppers, including a 12-0 record and the section

title in 2013. Summit was situated in North 2, Group 4

for the first time two years ago and qualified in the section

in both 2015 and 2016. Last year’s team reached the semifinals.

Kostibos was previously an assistant coach at Summit under

the coach he played for in high school at Hanover Park, John Liberato.

Liberato is now back coaching at Summit and is on staff as a varsity

assistant. Liberato was the freshman coach at Summit in 2013 and then

served as an assistant coach at Kean in 2014, 2015 and 2016.



Sept. 9 North Hunterdon, 2 p.m.

Sept. 15 at Immaculata, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Warren Hills, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 Scotch Plains, 4 p.m.

Oct. 6 Gov. Livingston, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Cranford, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 North Plainfield, 1 p.m.

Oct. 27 at Rahway, 7 p.m.

Nov. 4 Somerville, 2 p.m.



(A) Summit 24, North Hunterdon 13

(H) Summit 30, Immaculata 6

(H) Summit 35, Warren Hills 20

(A) Summit 54, Scotch Plains 35

(A) Summit 28, Gov. Livingston 21

(H) Cranford 37, Summit 7

(A) Summit 46, North Plainfield 42

(H) Summit 35, Rahway 20

(A) Somerville 42, Summit 7

(H) Summit 42, Colonia 7

(A) Middletown North 20, Summit 0

Head coach: Kevin Kostibos,

fourth season

Section: North 2, Group 4

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Raritan 4-0, outright champs

Record: 8-3

Home: 4-1

Away: 4-2

Points for: 308

Points against: 263

Shutouts: 0

Overtime: 0-0

PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – Summit players go through drills here before Summit’s game-scrimmage vs. visiting Union.
Summit opens home vs. North Hunterdon on Sept. 9.
Summit has made the state playoffs the last nine seasons and has produced final records over .500 the last eight.