BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ — A new coach for the first time in a decade, a fresh philosophy and a renewed spirit.
Governor Livingston High School football wants to be a player.
The Highlanders want to be among the best.
“My two biggest things right now are compete-level and coachability,” first-year head coach Pete Ramiccio said. “From a compete-level aspect we’re healthy. I’ve seen how they have competed and how they have played through with their toughness. The coachability is their willingness to make the necessary adjustments.”
The new quarterback is junior Michael Geertsma, last year’s backup who also started on the other side of the ball at end.
“Michael put a lot of work in during the spring and summer and has done a nice job for us so far,” Ramiccio said. “Our kids are already looking up to him as one of their leaders.”
Primary running backs include juniors John Fajardo and Owen Chait.
“John is a do-everything kind of back,” Ramiccio said. “He’s our main blocking back and he also has the ability to run between the tackles. Owen is very consistent.”
Receivers include senior Vincent Fabio and, in the slot, junior Matt Shaffer.
“Fabio was second team all-league last year, while Shaffer is a good, solid slot receiver,” Ramiccio said.
GL’s lone victory a year ago was the result of a field goal kicked on the final play of the game to beat Arthur L. Johnson High School. Returning kicker Liam Quigley produced the game-winning effort.
“You can’t ask for more than what Liam gives,” Ramiccio said. “He’s cool under pressure.”
Several students are back playing football after not being with the program last year. One of them is senior defensive lineman Kobe Catarino. Another is, on defense, sword position player Kyle Bade, also a senior.
“We’re really counting on Kyle,” Ramiccio said. “He’s been impressive so far. He’s also a basketball player, and he’s become a leader with the kids with his positive attitude.”
Ramiccio said that Fajardo in the middle at linebacker is a guy that can get the gaps covered. Ramaccio is hoping the secondary starts to take shape.
GL is in the Big Central Conference’s United Silver Division along with Carteret, J.P. Stevens of North Edison, North Plainfield and South Plainfield.
Starting this weekend, the Highlanders are scheduled to play nine straight weeks of regular-season football as they attempt to qualify as one of the 16 playoff teams out of North, Group 3. There are no bye weeks this year.
“I think these kids will benefit from the momentum of playing all the way through,” Ramiccio said.
Ramiccio’s first-year staff at GL includes Chris St. Genis as offensive coordinator, DJ McHugh as co-defensive coordinator, Paul Sep as defensive line coach, Noah Torino as running backs and outside linebackers coach, Vin Gargano as coach of the quarterbacks and Justin Polce as quality control coach.
GL’s power spread offense:
LT Dylan Randis, sophomore, 6-4, 260
LT Michael Daoulabani, junior, 6-0, 185
LG James Campbell, junior, 6-1, 185
C Teddy Scalora, senior, 5-9, 185
RG James Daoulabani, junior, 6-0, 185
RT Patrick Sheehan, senior, 6-8, 270
QB Michael Geertsma, junior, 6-0, 175
FB John Fajardo, junior, 5-11, 180
TB Owen Chait, junior, 5-8, 160
TB Jack Dally, sophomore, 5-6, 160
TB Ryan Honey, sophomore, 5-6, 150
SE Vincent Fabio, senior, 5-11, 165
SE Kyle Bade, senior, 5-11, 170
Slot Matt Shaffer, junior, 5-8, 150
PK Liam Quigley, senior, 5-9, 180
Returning starters: Fajardo, Chait, Fabio, Shaffer, Quigley.
GL’s 4-2-5 defense:
E Kobe Catarino, senior, 6-3, 180
E Thomas Sottosanti, junior, 6-0, 180
Inside James Campbell, junior, 6-1, 185
Inside Daniel Whelan, senior, 5-11, 215
MLB John Fajardo, junior, 5-11, 180
WLB Liam Quigley, senior, 5-9, 180
WLB JJ Staricco, junior, 6-1, 175
Stud Jack Dally, sophomore, 5-6, 160
Stud Owen Chait, junior, 5-8, 160
Sword Kyle Bade, senior, 5-11, 170
CB Matt Shaffer, junior, 5-8, 150
FS Patrick Kingsley, junior, 6-0, 155
CB Ryan Honey, sophomore, 5-6, 150
CB Colin Ryan, senior, 5-8, 145
P Liam Quigley, senior, 5-9, 180
Returning starters: Fajardo, Chait, Shaffer.
2022 Governor Livingston Highlanders football schedule:
• Aug. 26: at New Providence, 29-9 loss.
• Sept. 1: at Arthur L. Johnson, 6 p.m.
• Sept. 9: vs. North Plainfield, 7 p.m.
• Sept. 16: at J.P. Stevens, 6 p.m.
• Sept. 24: vs. Iselin Kennedy, 1:30 p.m.
• Oct. 1: vs. South Plainfield, 2 p.m.
• Oct. 7: at Carteret, 7 p.m.
• Oct. 15: vs. South River, 1 p.m.
• Oct. 21: at Bernards, 7 p.m.
Head coach: Pete Ramiccio, first season
2021 GL Highlanders, 1-9:
• Voorhees 27, Governor Livingston 14, away.
• Bernards 42, Governor Livingston 7, home.
• Delaware Valley 40, Governor Livingston 7, away.
• Hillside 35, Governor Livingston 0, home.
• Summit 33, Governor Livingston 0, away.
• North Plainfield 42, Governor Livingston 26, home.
• St. Thomas Aquinas 59, Governor Livingston 0, away.
• Governor Livingston 24, Arthur L. Johnson 21, home.
• Metuchen 28, Governor Livingston 14, away.
• New Providence 30, Governor Livingston 7, home.
Head coach: Dan Guyton, ninth season
Section: North, Group 3
Conference: Big Central
Division: 2A, 0-5
Points for: 99
Points against: 357
Governor Livingston Highlanders
Head coach: Pete Ramiccio, 2002 Lakeland graduate, first season.
Conference: Big Central
Division: United Silver
Section: North, Group 3
GL’s last playoff season: 2016
Frey Field: Turf
Ramiccio, a 2006 Syracuse grad who was a student manager of the Syracuse football team, coached at Iona College for two years before he went to Montclair High School as an assistant in 2010. He was an assistant there for 11 seasons with head coach John Fiore, from 2010 to 2020. Last year, he moved up to interim head coach when Fiore had to take time off for family reasons. Fiore did not return to Montclair, after missing all of last season. He is now the head coach at Elizabeth. This is Ramiccio’s first head coaching position. “The moment I left college football, my goal was to have the opportunity one day to run my own program,” Ramiccio said. That dream has come true for Ramiccio in Berkeley Heights.