BERKELEY HEIGHTS – Five returning starters, all seniors, will lead the Highlanders on to the field Saturday when they host Voorhees at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium in Union.
The turf and track at Frey Field is presently being re-done, which is why GL will face Voorhees at Kean this weekend.
The plan is to have the field ready for GL’s next home date, which is Sept. 23 vs. North Plainfield.
The five returning senior starters include quarterback-defensive back Pat DeAngelis, two-way linemen DJ Gonnelli, Brandon Gyory and Mike Magliacano and wide receiver-defensive back Matthew Schuman.
“Pat started half of his sophomore year before he got injured,” fifth-year head coach Dan Guyton said. “He was a two-way starter last year and excelled on both sides of the ball.
“He’s a tough, hard-nose kid. We’re excited to see how he does leading the team. He worked really hard in the off-season.”
Magliacano was First Team All-Conference a year ago.
“He’s our hardest worker and strongest player,” Guyton said.
Two linemen from a year ago that are playing in college now are Brian Biskaduros at Muhlenberg and Dan Tomlinson at New Haven.
“We will need our linemen to step up this year,” Guyton said.
An injury-riddled squad yielded 320 points in 10 games last year, which is too much.
“Our focus is on improving the defense first where injuries last year decimated our chances at being a playoff contender,” Guyton said. “On offense we have added some wrinkles that will make us a bit more balanced.”
GL won two of its first three games a year ago and was then one fourth-and-long stop away from topping a 4-0 Summit team at home before falling to the Hilltoppers by a touchdown.
The Highlanders still ended up qualifying in North 2, Group 3 – as the sixth seed with a 3-5 record at the cutoff – but were soundly defeated at third-seeded and eventual second-time champion Morris Hills 47-7.
“Our only goals are to work extremely hard, possess laser focus and to be the best possible football team we can be,” Guyton said. “Our schedule is such that every opponent we face will force us to play our best brand of football.”
GL remains situated in the Mid-State 38 Conference’s Mountain Division, where it finished fourth last year with a 2-3 league mark. Wins came against Voorhees and North Plainfield and losses were to Rahway, Somerville and Cranford.
The division consists of the same six schools this season, including GL, Voorhees, North Plainfield, Rahway, defending champion Somerville and Cranford.
GL, seeking its first season above .500 since 2008, concluded its 2016 campaign with a third straight win over Thanksgiving Day rival New Providence.
GL’s all-time record against New Providence is now 6-25-2. The three wins before the present three-game winning streak came in 1984, 1997 and 2005.
“Since my first year in 2013 our team motto has been “Burn the Ships! The saying derives from Sun Tzu’s Art of War where he described how commanders should burn their boats when attacking a nearby enemy so that there is no chance for re-treat,” Guyton said.
“It is also a metaphor,” Guyton continues, “for putting the past behind you, moving forward and not letting what has come before inhibit the present.
“This season, with only three games at our home field and having graduated a plethora of senior starters, our motto fits better than ever.”
Provided GL’s Frey Field renovation is complete, the Highlanders plan to honor the 50th anniversary of the Jack Bicknell Era of GL football at its home game vs. North Plainfield on Sept. 23.
Bicknell, 79, was the head coach at Boston College in 1984 when his senior quarterback Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy that season. That was the year of the memorable day-after-Thanksgiving game in which Flutie’s last-play long touchdown pass to Gerald Phelan beat the Miami Hurricanes and rookie coach Jimmy Johnson.
Bicknell’s first head coaching stint was at GL for four seasons from 1964-1967. In four nine-game seasons back then, Bicknell led the Highlanders to a combined 28-6-2 record.
“We are honoring any coaches and players from that era that attend by unveiling a Jack Bicknell bronze plaque next to our team ‘Rock’,” Guyton said.
RETURNING STARTERS (5):
QB-DB Pat DeAngelis, senior, (6-1, 180)
OL-DL DJ Gonnelli, senior, (6-2, 210)
OL-DL Brandon Gyory, senior, (6-4, 220)
OL-DL Mike Magliacano, senior, (6-1, 240)
WR-DB Matthew Schuman, senior, (6-0, 175)
TOP NEWCOMERS (12):
OL-DL John Jeffords, senior, (6-3, 190)
RB-LB Matt Perez-Santalla, senior, (5-10, 182)
RB-LB Chris Bruno, junior, (6-1, 175)
OL-DL Matt Elmblad, junior, (5-8, 200)
WR-DB Jake Faulkner, junior, (6-3, 155)
OL-DL Diego Lopez, junior, (6-0, 230)
RB-LB Jake Pencek, junior, (6-0, 175)
RB-DB Matt Richel, junior, (6-0, 160)
QB-DB Drew Rittman, junior, (6-1, 160)
RB-LB James Snyder, junior, (5-8, 155)
RB-DB Noah Truncale, junior, (5-6, 130)
QB-DB Ferdinando Melo, sophomore, (6-2, 175)
GL’S SPREAD SINGLE WING OFFENSE:
Pat DeAngelis, quarterback
Matt Schuman, wide receiver, tight end
James Snyder, halfback
Matt Perez-Santalla, fullback
Jake Faulkner, wide receiver, tight end
Chris Bruno, wing back
Mike Magliacano, tackle
Brandon Gyory, tackle
DJ Gonnelli, guard
Matt Elmblad, guard
Jared VanOostendorp, center
GL’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
Jake Pencek, middle linebacker
Drew Rittman, outside linebacker
Chris Bruno, outside linebacker
Matt Richel, cornerback
Noah Truncale, cornerback
Matt Schuman, free safety
Pat DeAngelis, strong safety
Mike Magliacano, tackle
Diego Lopez, tackle
John Jeffords, end
Brandon Gyory, end
2017 PLAYERS LOST TO INJURY (2):
QB-DB Quinn Haddad, senior, (6-1, 175)
RB-LB Noah Brogden, junior, (5-9, 175)
TOP LETTERMEN LOST (10):
Doug Anderson, quarterback-defensive back-kicker
Brian Biskaduros, two-way lineman
Chris Bottone, two-way lineman
Ben Collins, two-way lineman
Turner Haddad, running back-linebacker
Tommy Jakositz, two-way lineman
Will Nicholson, running back-defensive back
Billy Qu, running back-defensive back
Dan Tomlinson, two-way lineman
Jon Wong, running back-defensive back
GOV. LIVINGSTON HIGHLANDERS
Head Coach: Dan Guyton, since 2013.
A 1998 Gov. Livingston graduate.
Fifth season: 17-23 (.425)
Conference: Mid-State 38
Section: North 2, Group 3
GL’s last playoff season: 2013
2016: (4-6 and 2-3, fourth in Mountain Division)
GL’s Frey Field: Field Turf (new).
Guyton has guided GL to three 4-6 finishes and one
5-5 record, which was in 2014. He is 0-2 in playoff
games – both in North 2, Group 3 – and 1-1 in
sectional consolation contests.
Guyton was previously an assistant coach at GL
for seven seasons, including his last in 2008 when
the Highlanders reached the N2, G2 final. He then
served as an assistant coach at Johnson before landing
his first job as a head coach four years ago with GL.
Guyton is seeking to lead GL to its first winning season
since the Highlanders went 7-5 in 2008.
GL HIGHLANDERS 2017
Sept. 9 Voorhees at Kean, 2 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Rahway, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 North Plainfield, 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Summit, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Somerville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 Cranford, 7 p.m.
Oct. 27 at Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.
Nov. 3 at Johnson, 7 p.m.
Nov. 23 New Providence, 10:30 a.m.
2016 GL HIGHLANDERS (4-6)
(A) Gov. Livingston 21, Voorhees 13
(H) Rahway 34, Gov. Livingston 10
(A) Gov. Livingston 36, North Plainfield 33
(H) Summit 28, Gov. Livingston 21
(H) Somerville 49, Gov. Livingston 7
(A) Cranford 49, Gov. Livingston 7
(H) Gov. Livingston 10, Delaware Valley 7
(H) Johnson 35, Gov. Livingston 20
(A) Morris Hills 47, Gov. Livingston 7
(A) Gov. Livingston 40, New Providence 25
Head coach: Dan Guyton,
Section: North 2, Group 3
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Mountain 2-3, fourth
Points for: 179
Points against: 320