SUMMIT – A young team from a year ago – one that still made the playoffs and produced a winning record – is now an experienced unit ready to take that next step.
The Hilltoppers have nine returning starters on offense and seven on defense. That’s the kind of team that can’t wait to get started.
“High school football goes in cycles,” head coach Kevin Kostibos said. “Some years you have to replace and some years you have guys back.”
Returning senior starters Jack Kelly, Max Jackson, Jackson Tyler and Dominic Yorio were named captains.
“Your goals never change,” Kostibos said. “You try to figure out how to achieve no matter what.
“We like that we have multi-sport athletes. For us we have to pick it up now from where we hoped to have left off in late November.
“That’s what camp is about, to get back into it, into the football realm of it.”
Summit went 6-4 and reached the North 2, Group 3 playoffs once again last year. The first two losses, which came early, were by four and three points. The final two – in Summit’s last two games – came by a touchdown each, the first in overtime.
“We were very young last year and we had to go through some growing pains,” Kostibos said. “We lost four games and were in every one of them.
“That comes with youth and inexperience. You have to learn how to finish. You have to not only improve, but finish what you start.”
Returning at quarterback is senior Skyler Schluter, who started some as a sophomore before last season.
“Skyler is a great signal-caller, a kid who truly understands the offense and our expectations,” Kostibos said. “As a senior now he really runs the offense efficiently.
“He has great energy and the biggest thing is that he understands the other positions. A returning quarterback knows what he is doing and so he can now focus on what everyone else is doing.”
Jackson Tyler is a three-year starter who will be going to West Point.
“Jackson is very disciplined and respectful, he has that military mentality,” Kostibos said.
Max Jackson, like Jackson Tyler last year, gained close to 1,000 yards rushing, according to Kostibos.
“Both are very good running backs, big and bruising,” Kostibos said. “Max is an incredibly hard worker who cares more about his teammates than himself. He’s more focused on trying to help others achieve.
“That duo is a pretty potent backfield.”
Jack Kelly, a returning starter on defense at linebacker, is coming off an ACL injury he suffered the first day of this past lacrosse season.
“In most cases a kid would never come back, but Jack is,” Kostibos said. “He was one of our best defensive players last year and is working even harder. He’s as passionate and persistent as it gets.”
Kostibos is also high on his two cornerbacks, including senior Tyrone Hines and junior Joe Lusardi. Both are returning starters.
“They’re very good,” Kostibos said. “They have the ability to do it all. They can lock it down, understand zone coverages and they’re just smart, athletic kids. They also have motors to do it on offense as well. Both kids are electric.
“We can also be very strong up front where we are stressing a ton of fundamentals.”
Summit scored 329 points last year, but yielded 241 in 10 games, including more than 40 in each of its final two.
“I think we have the opportunity to be very good defensively,” Kostibos said.
Yorio is a returning starter on offense at tight end and on defense at end.
SUMMIT’S WING-T OFFENSE:
C Ronnie Faris, junior, (5-9, 195)
C Charlie Wattick, sophomore, (5-10, 210)
G Jack Hedges, senior, (5-9, 200)
G Hunter Timpson, senior, (5-11, 230)
G Justin Luckshire, junior, (6-1, 200)
T David Axtel, senior, (6-4, 235)
T Harry Walsh, senior, (6-5, 235)
T Harry Grange, junior, (6-2, 215)
TE Dominic Yorio, senior, (6-5, 220)
TE John Fischetti, junior, (6-3, 185)
WR Tyrone Hines, senior, (5-7, 155)
WR Eddie Kaes, senior, (6-2, 170)
WR EJ Sorenson, junior, (5-5, 135)
QB Skyler Schluter, senior, (6-1, 155)
RB Ollie Paasonen, junior, (6-4, 215)
FB Ryan Reigle, senior, (6-1, 210)
TB Jackson Tyler, senior, (6-2, 200)
TB Max Jackson, senior, (6-2, 210)
TB Joe Lusardi, junior, (5-11, 175)
TB Matty Goldblatt, junior, (6-0, 170)
PK Ollie Paasonen, junior, (6-4, 215)
Returning starters (9): Hedges, Timpson,
Axtel, Walsh, Yorio, Hines, Schluter,
SUMMIT’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
E Ryan Reigle, senior, (6-1, 210)
E Ollie Paasonen, junior, (6-4, 215)
E Dominic Yorio, senior, (6-5, 220)
T Hunter Timpson, senior, (5-11, 230)
T Nick Mellusi, senior, (5-9, 215)
T Jeremy Chacon, senior, (6-2, 190)
LB Jack Kelly, senior, (5-11, 190)
LB Austin Groce, sophomore, (6-2, 200)
LB Matt Bronikowski, junior, (5-11, 170)
LB Evan Duetsch, junior, (5-10, 165)
LB John Fischetti, junior, (6-3, 185)
CB Tyrone Hines, senior, (5-7, 155)
CB Joe Lusardi, junior, (5-11, 175)
CB Finbar McCormack, senior, (5-9, 150)
CB Sam Roberts, junior, (6-1, 170)
S Matty Goldblatt, junior, (6-0, 170)
S Jackson Tyler, senior, (6-2, 200)
P Ollie Paasonen, junior, (6-4, 215)
Returning starters (7): Reigle, Yorio,
Timpson, Kelly, Hines, Lusardi, Tyler.
SUMMIT HILLTOPPERS 2018
Sept. 7 at Montgomery, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 Warren Hills, 1 p.m.
Sept. 22 North Hunterdon, 1 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Scotch Plains, 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 Colonia, 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Cranford, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 St. Joseph’s, Metuchen, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Immaculata, 7 p.m.
Head coach: Kevin Kostibos,
2017 SUMMIT HILLTOPPERS (6-4)
(H) North Hunterdon 21, Summit 17
(A) Summit 14, Immaculata 13
(A) Warren Hills 20, Summit 17
(H) Summit 56, Scotch Plains 35
(H) Summit 35, Gov. Livingston 8
(A) Summit 31, Cranford 13
(H) Summit 55, North Plainfield 30
(A) Summit 34, Rahway 14
(H) Somerville 42, Summit 36 (OT)
(H) Rahway 45, Summit 37
Head coach: Kevin Kostibos,
Section: North 2, Group 3
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Raritan, 2-2
Points for: 329
Points against: 241
Head Coach: Kevin Kostibos, since 2013.
A 1999 Hanover Park graduate.
Sixth season: 41-13 (.759)
Conference: Mid-State 36
Section: North, Group 3
Summit’s last sectional title: 2013
2017: (6-4 and 2-2, tied for second in Raritan Division)
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 three years ago and qualified in the section
in both 2015 and 2016. The 2016 squad reached the semifinals.
Last year’s team – in the North 2, Group 3 quarterfinals –
lost at home to Rahway 45-37 two weeks after winning
at Rahway in the regular season by the score of 34-14.
Kostibos was previously an assistant coach at Summit under
the coach he played for in high school at Hanover Park, John Liberato. Liberato came back to coaching the varsity at Summit last year, with this being his second year on staff as an assistant. Liberato was the freshman coach at Summit in 2013 and then served as an assistant coach at Kean in 2014, 2015 and 2016.