CLARK – In the span of almost exactly three months last year the Crusaders managed to get in 11 games, despite not qualifying for the Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs.
Taking advantage of playing up to two consolation contests before closing with its season-ending Thanksgiving Day game against neighborhood rival Rahway, Johnson’s very young squad of a year ago managed to tuck away as much experience as possible.
Although the Crusaders came a half of football away from finishing with a winning record again – Johnson came in at 5-6 – they set themselves up well for what could be a banner season in 2019.
In contrast to having just three returning starters on offense and four on defense last year, Johnson has 10 back on offense and six on defense for the upcoming campaign.
“This is definitely the most returning players I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said head coach Anthony DelConte, at the helm of the Crusaders since 2014. “We have 33 guys for varsity and JV. They need to buy in and be prepared when the moment comes.”
Running the spread offense for a second year is junior quarterback Joseph Greenbush.
“He’s noticeably different,” DelConte said. “His work ethic and the way he carries himself is on a higher level.
“He’s fast, reads well and is a big body (6-1, 205) to bring down. He falls forward, not backwards. He is very confident.”
All but one lineman and one player in the backfield return from last year’s team that beat Spotswood in consecutive weeks (regular season and consolation) and then Chatham for win No. 5.
“It’s always good to have guys who have done it before,” DelConte said. “They just really needed to shake the rust off. It’s been a thing of more reps, with their speed and intensity picking up.
“So far we’ve been okay, but we’re still not where we want to be yet.”
Among the leaders on defense are senior cornerback Max Carmino, senior safeties Evan Parenti and John Cuccolo and senior lineman Patrick Brennan.
“Max is a hard-worker, very athletic and competitive,” DelConte said. “Parenti and Cucculo stuggled a bit last year as we allowed too many passing touchdowns. They were motivated to work hard in the off-season to make sure they will not make the same mistakes again.
“Brennan is our best lineman, offense and defense. He’s physical, tough, hustles and manages to get his large frame (6-2, 245) all over the field.”
DelConte said that senior tackle Vito Cassano also moves well for someone with his size (6-2, 310).
“He hustles hard sideline to sideline,” DelConte said.
Johnson’s game-scrimmage is at Madison on Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” DelConte said. “It’s tough to tell what our strengths are at the moment.”
The first two games are at Valley Division foes Delaware Valley on Sept. 13 and then at defending champion Hillside on Sept. 21.
Johnson’s home-opener is not until Sept. 27 vs. Valley Division opponent Bernards.
“We have to be in shape and not be winded,” DelConte said. “Being ready and being prepared are two different things. You may be ready, but you have to be prepared when the time comes to perform.”
NOTES: Johnson and Rahway will play each other on Thanksgiving for at least one more year.
“I love it,” DelConte said. “It was up in the air whether last year was going to be it, but it turned out to not be the last time.
“I know we’ll be pumped. Last year was a great game and Rahway has had our number recently, so we have to change that.”
Rahway has won the last three games. Johnson’s last win in the series came in 2015.
JOHNSON’S SPREAD OFFENSE:
LT Christopher Nudo, senior (5-9, 180)
LG Jordan Downey, junior, (5-8, 190)
C Patrick Brennan, senior, (6-2, 245)
RG Albert Galiszewski, senior, (5-10, 235)
RT Patrick Johnson, senior, (5-10, 235)
TE Kyle Sachewicz, senior, (5-10, 180)
SE Max Carmino, senior, (6-0, 165)
QB Joseph Greenbush, junior, (6-1, 205)
FB John Cucculo, senior, (5-9, 175)
RB Tommy Flanagan, junior, (5-10, 185)
RB Evan Parenti, senior, (5-9, 150)
PK Andrew Popp, junior, (5-10, 180)
Returning starters (10): Nudo, Downey,
Brennan, Galiszewski, Johnson, Carmino,
Greenbush, Flanagan, Parenti and Popp.
JOHNSON’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
E Patrick Brennan, senior, (6-2, 245)
T Albert Galiszewski, senior, (5-10, 235)
T Vito Cassano, senior, (6-2, 310)
E Christopher Nudo, senior (5-9, 180)
LB Kyle Sachewicz, senior, (5-10, 180)
MLB Andy Zheng, senior, (5-9, 185)
WLB Griffin Jones, junior, (5-9, 190)
CB Max Carmino, senior, (6-0, 165)
S John Cucculo, senior, (5-9, 175)
S Evan Parenti, senior, (5-9, 150)
CB Vincent Papa, junior, (5-7, 140)
P Max Carmino, senior, (6-0, 165)
Returning starters (6): Brennan, Cassano,
Sachewicz, Carmino, Cuccolo, Parenti.
JOHNSON CRUSADERS 2019
Sept. 13 at Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Hillside, 1 p.m.
Sept. 27 Bernards, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 Gov. Livingston, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 Roselle, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Middlesex, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at New Providence, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 Dunellen, 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 at Rahway, 10:30 a.m.
Head coach: Anthony DelConte,
2018 JOHNSON CRUSADERS (5-6)
(A) Gov. Livingston 21, Johnson 14
(H) Delaware Valley 26, Johnson 14
(A) Johnson 27, Metuchen 7
(A) Johnson 7, Roselle 0 (RRP)
(H) Hillside 47, Johnson 0
(A) North Plainfield 32, Johnson 14
(A) Bernards 47, Johnson 12
(H) Johnson 35, Spotswood 13
(H) Johnson 40, Spotswood 6
(A) Johnson 27, Chatham 24
(H) Rahway 34, Johnson 13
Head coach: Anthony DelConte,
Section: South, Group 2
Conference: Mid-State 36
Division: Valley, 1-3
Points for: 203
Points against: 257
Head coach: Anthony DelConte, since 2014.
A 2006 Johnson graduate.
Sixth season: 30-23 (.566)
Conference: Mid-State 37
Section: South, Group 2
Johnson’s last sectional title: 2002
2018: (5-6 and 1-3, fourth in the Valley Division)
Nolan Field in Clark: Turf.
DelConte 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 200