CLARK – The quarterback is new.
The lead running back is different.
There’s somewhat of a new identity on defense as well.
It doesn’t matter, according to fifth-year head coach Anthony DelConte.
“No matter what you have to be ready to play and we will be,” said DelConte as his team prepares for a rare Aug. 30 opener at Mid-State Union County rival Gov. Livingston, with also an unusual Thursday kickoff time of 3 p.m.
“If you told us we were playing in a parking lot tomorrow at 12 we would,” DelConte said. “Our kids will be ready to roll.”
Under center is sophomore signal-caller Joseph Greenbush, who is coming along nicely before he experiences his first varsity start.
“He’s gotten better through pre-season,” DelConte said. “He’s a strong, physical kid who can throw the rock a bit.
“He’s stepping into a big role at quarterback as a sophomore. Right now he’s doing the things necessary to be where he needs to be.
“He can drop back, throw on the run, get physical and bang it in there and he can also read it.”
Succeeding since-graduated Snapple Bowl All-Star Joe Turek, who now attends the University of Delaware, at the No. 1 running back position is senior Sebastian Iakouchevitch. He was the District 13 runner-up at 182 pounds last winter.
“Iak is a strong, very instinctive back who runs hard,” DelConte said. “One guy isn’t going to take him down.
“He has speed in the open field and can slide and glide. He’s also a great leader and a role model. He works his butt off and it shows on the field.”
Patrick Brennan, a junior, returns as Johnson’s center.
“Patrick is a smart, athletic, physical kid who has gotten bigger and stronger and who takes pride in putting people on their backs,” DelConte said.
Rico Veltre is a returning starter on both sides of the ball, at receiver on offense and linebacker on defense.
“He’s a big leader for us defensively,” DelConte said of one the seniors he will be counting on heavily. “He’s physical, has high energy and just loves being out there.
“He’s a high-character kid who is very competitive and wants to win.”
Vito Galluzzo was involved in Johnson’s triple-option offense last year and this year, as a senior, is a slot player in the team’s spread scheme.
“Vito is very elusive, a dynamic player who does things naturally that you can’t coach,” DelConte said.
Thomas Bizzoco, another key senior, is a returning end on defense and a tackle on offense.
“Although he may be a little undersized when you first look at him he does not let that affect him,” DelConte said. “He has a tenacious, nasty attitude and brings it as a competitor.”
Johnson opens Week Zero at GL and also has kept its Thanksgiving Day game with Rahway. The Crusaders will have a bye week the final weekend in September.
“Our Thanksgiving Day game with Rahway is a big rivalry game for us,” DelConte said. “Our guys look forward to it. It’s also for the alumni and everyone else involved.
“Rahway has beaten us the last two years so we want to go in there and win it this time. We take pride in that game. This year we want to win it.
“It will be tough for us this year because if we don’t make the playoffs we’ll have two-and-a-half weeks off (because of new playoff format) before playing on Thanksgiving, which I don’t like.
“Football teaches life lessons, so we’ll have to power our way through it and get it done.”
JOHNSON’S SPREAD OFFENSE:
LG Luke Giltner, senior, (6-0, 250)
C Patrick Brennan, junior, (6-2, 235)
RG Albert Galiszewski, junior, (5-10, 235)
T Thomas Bizzoco, senior, (5-9, 175)
T Jerome Palmer, junior, (6-4, 255)
TE-WR Rico Veltre, senior, (5-11, 165)
WR Max Carmino, junior, (5-11, 145)
SLOT Vito Galluzzo, senior, (5-8, 170)
SLOT Evan Parenti, junior, (5-9, 140)
QB Joseph Greenbush, sophomore, (6-0, 200)
RB Sebastian Iakouchevitch, senior, (5-11, 210)
PK Nicholas Serpe, senior, (5-9, 200)
Returning starters (3): Giltner, Brennan, Veltre.
JOHNSON’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
E Thomas Bizzoco, senior, (5-9, 175)
T Vito Cassano, junior, (6-2, 335)
T Daniel Burns, senior, (5-7, 235)
E Nicholas Serpe, senior, (5-9, 200)
SLB Sebastian Iakouchevitch, senior, (5-11, 210)
MIKE Joseph Kaulfers, junior, (5-9, 165)
WLB Rico Veltre, senior, (5-11, 165)
CB Max Carmino, junior, (5-11, 145)
CB John Cuccolo, junior, (5-7, 155)
FS Evan Parenti, junior, (5-9, 140)
SS Vito Galluzzo, senior, (5-8, 170)
Returning starters (4): Bizzoco, Serpe,
JOHNSON CRUSADERS 2018
Aug. 30 at Gov. Livingston, 3 p.m.
Sept. 7 Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Metuchen, 1 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Roselle, 7 p.m. (RRP)
Oct. 5 Hillside, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at North Plainfield, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Bernards, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 Spotswood, 7 p.m.
Nov. 22 Rahway, 10:30 a.m.
Head coach: Anthony DelConte,
2017 JOHNSON CRUSADERS (8-3)
(H) Johnson 41, New Providence 3
(A) Johnson 38, Bernards 7
(H) Johnson 23, Roselle 13
(A) Johnson 49, Delaware Valley 21
(H) Johnson 22, Hillside 13
(H) Somerville 33, Johnson 7
(A) Johnson 41, North Plainfield 20
(H) Johnson 41, Gov. Livingston 6
(H) Johnson 34, Holmdel 6
(H) Hillside 19, Johnson 16
(A) Rahway 21, Johnson 13
Head coach: Anthony DelConte,
Section: Central Jersey, Group 2
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Valley, 5-0, champs
Points for: 325
Points against: 162
Head coach: Anthony DelConte, since 2014.
A 2006 Johnson graduate.
Fifth season: 25-17 (.595)
Conference: Mid-State 36
Section: South, Group 2
Johnson’s last sectional title: 2002
2017: (8-3 and 5-0, outright Valley Division champs)
Nolan Field in Clark: Field Turf.
DelConte has guided Johnson to playoff berths
in Central Jersey, Group 2 his first four seasons
at the helm of the Crusaders, despite starting
2014 and 2015 with 0-3 records. In 2015 Johnson won its
first playoff game since 2008. 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.
Johnson lost by four points – 33-29 – at eventual champion
Manasquan in the 2016 CJ, G2 quarterfinals and at home by
three points – 19-16 – to eventual champion Hillside in the
2017 CJ, G2 semifinals.