KENILWORTH, NJ — Although David Brearley High School graduated one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Matt Sims, who is now playing at Salisbury University, the Bears have managed to keep their heads above water for some time now.
David Brearley last finished at less than .500 in 2012. The Bears, including last year’s 10-1 finish that saw them reach the North 1, Group 1 sectional state championship game, have averaged a little more than seven wins the past five seasons. They have finished better than .500 or at .500, which was three times, the past 10.
Standout players have come and gone, with winning results still following.
“Our best 11 players will be on the field,” said first-year head coach Allen Phillips. “Knowing what to do at all times, giving maximum effort and flying to the ball are key. Communication from player to player is very important.”
Representing the Bears
• Mike Kollarik, No. 7, senior, TE-OLB
• Ryan Obiedzinski, No. 1, senior, QB-WR-DB
• Kristian Janeczko, No. 55, senior, OG-MLB
At tight end and linebacker is senior Mike Kollarik, a candidate for captain status.
“Mike is a vocal leader who leads by example and words,” Phillips said. “He first started as a sophomore and he leads the charge for us on offense and defense.”
Ryan Obiedzinski takes over at quarterback. A senior, Obiedzinski came out as a freshman and then came back last year. He also has a strong leg, which makes him David Brearley’s punter and kicker.
“We’ll make the schemes work for him on all levels,” Phillips said. “When he gets the ball in space, he can be a real playmaker for us and do the rest. He knows what he’s doing and can really take charge.”
Another key senior, Kristian Janeczko, is about as spread out as a player can be on the field. On offense, he is one of David Brearley’s starting guards and a backup at fullback, tight end and H-back. On defense, he is at middle linebacker.
“At times on offense, he’ll take handoffs and catch passes and we’re pleased he can back us up at those positions,” Phillips said. “He starts for us at guard.
“At middle linebacker, we tell him to just ‘go.’ If he sees something, to just ‘go.’”
Following the high production provided by Sims and fellow 2023 David Brearley graduate Brendan Fitzsimmons, who was Sims’ No. 1 target, will be a challenge for sure.
Other impact seniors include Anthony Flowers at wide receiver and cornerback and Gavin Marranca at lead running back.
“Anthony has experience and the kind of athleticism we want,” Phillips said. “He’s responding to the techniques used at cornerback.”
Flowers was part of David Brearley’s 2023 spring boys track and field team that captured the program’s first-ever division title. The Bears won the Union County Conference’s Valley Division championship, with Flowers a standout in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, where he finished first; and the hurdles, where he finished second.
“We’re pretty much a senior-driven team this year,” Phillips said. “Next year, we won’t be as much.”
Marranca is also starting on defense at outside linebacker.
“He’s a gym rat who loves to work out and is always dripping sweat,” Phillips said. “He has solid north-south vision and has improved his cuts. He’s always giving maximum effort and, at linebacker, will smack you.
“He’s kind of a darkhorse player who will surprise people. His improvements have shown.”
Mark Davis is a first-year junior who also plays basketball. At 6-foot-2, Phillips said he “has a wingspan that is crazy strong.” Davis is at end on defense and will be at other spots where Phillips feels he can make plays.
Sophomores in the midst of making their first impacts include Matthew Resende, Carter Stein and Joe Squillaro.
Resende, also on the track team, will see some time at fullback, in the slot and at wing on offense and as a rover linebacker on defense.
Stein, also a varsity wrestler for Phillips, increased his weight from 106 to 130. Squillaro, another varsity wrestler, is David Brearley’s starting free safety and a backup quarterback. He stands 6-1 and is now 160 pounds.
“Our overall numbers increased by six,” Phillips said. “We’re at 41-42, which is a few up, but pretty average. It’s not horrible.
“We have a bigger freshmen class, but our junior class is light, which is a bit of a concern. We have 12 sophomores and 12 seniors.
“I like our senior leadership.”
Phillips, a 2010 David Brearley graduate who played for and coached with the head coach he succeeds, Scott Miller, was named the program’s sixth head coach back in June.
“It’s an honor and a great challenge,” said Phillips, who has also been David Brearley’s head wrestling coach the past four seasons.
Phillips, who turned 31 on June 29, was a standout football player, wrestler and baseball player at David Brearley from 2006 to 2010. He has been a health and physical education teacher at David Brearley for the past six years and also coaches track and field.
Phillips played college football at Montclair State University.
2023 David Brearley Bears
• Friday, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m., Manville High School
• Saturday, Sept. 9, at 1 p.m., at Spotswood High School
• Friday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m., at Roselle Park High School
• Friday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m., Jonathan Dayton High School
• Friday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m., at South Hunterdon Regional High School
• Thursday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m., Highland Park High School
• Friday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m., Middlesex High School
• Thursday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m., at Dunellen High School