Linden football preview – Tigers put Dolbrice at QB expecting championship run

LINDEN – Will this be the year Linden really puts it all together and has a chance to win a state championship in December?

Moving its best player – senior Juwan Dolbrice – to quarterback was what seventh-year head coach Deon Candia hopes was the first step toward that lofty goal.

“Juwan is a great athlete, first of all,” Candia said.

Dolbrice rushed for over 1,000 yards the past two seasons as Linden’s lead running back, helping lead the Tigers to consecutive sectional semifinal contests.

“Juwan played quarterback in Pop Warner during his younger days,” Candia said. “He just likes the ball in his hand.”

Also a standout at basketball in the backcourt, the 6-foot, 190-pound Dolbrice has proven a very tough runner to bring down once he gets his room.

“He takes what he does in basketball and applies it to football,” Candia said. “He can remember things, learns fast and makes good decisions. As a starter on the basketball team he’s learned how to deal with pressure.”

The decision to move Dolbrice to quarterback and not have fellow senior Khalil Burns replace since-graduated Dazzmen Johnson under center was made right before official practice commenced.

“We had a talk with Juwan and he kind of saw it coming,” Candia said. “We wanted to have a decision before camp and in late July we talked to the different players it affected. In our 7-on-7s and running back reps it just clicked. Juwan is willing to do whatever it takes.

“Juwan’s made great strides at quarterback in the pre-season and we think we have the best chance of winning with him at quarterback.”

Candia reported that Dolbrice is also more than just a threat to run with the ball after receiving the snap from the center.

“Another positive for us is that Juwan has a strong arm and is pretty accurate,” Candia said. “We were pleased with what he did in the 7-on-7s. In our first scrimmage he completed two long balls for more than 40 yards.

“He’s also strong at cornerback for us. He’s a great athlete that’s in great shape.”

Back for his third year with the program after playing at Don Bosco Prep his freshman season is senior running back Kyle Phipps.

“Kyle’s our workhorse this year,” Candia said. “He’s ready to handle it. He got banged up some last year, but took care of himself, got stronger and is a shifty back. We think he’s going to have a big season this year.”

While the offensive line lacks varsity experience, with a few of the guys new to the program, Candia is confident they will catch on.

“We have leadership with (seniors) Max (Burgos at center) and (Gregory) Blaine (at guard),” Candia said. “We’ll be able to hold up.”

Burns, who on offense is one of the tight ends, leads Linden’s 4-4 defense at one of the end positions.

“Burns is big and has a great motor,” Candia said of the 6-1, 200-pound athlete. “He’s very aggressive on the edge. We’re hoping for a breakout year from him. He’s a relentless kind of rusher.”

At safety is returning starter, junior Samad Starling.

“Samad brings the attitude that we need,” Candia said. “He’s very vocal. He’s an all-purpose kind of guy who can play linebacker too.

“He can move around and has high energy. We expect him to be all over the place. He took his bumps as a sophomore.

“Along with Juwan he’s our quarterback in the secondary.”

Another key returning starter on defense is senior Tymir Hinton.

“One of the biggest changes to help our defense was moving Tymir to middle linebacker, replacing Sha-quan Champaign (a 2014 graduate),” Candia said. “Tymir is very fast and aggressive. At 6-0, 185 he’s being recruited as a strong safety.

“He’s the anchor of our defense. He has a great nose to the ball and motor.”

Linden reached the North 2, Group 4 semifinals two years ago, falling at WarrenHills 21-7, and last fall made it to the North 2, Group 5 semifinals, falling at eventual champion Ridge 28-14.

“I think we’re still under the radar, but I think this is the most talent I’ve had on one team – offensively and defensively – in my seven years,” Candia said. “We just have to put it all together.

“We have good leadership and experience and enough talent to take it as far as we can go.”



T Jerrell VanDevere, senior, (6-4, 225)

T Daniel Krok, senior, (6-2, 225)

G Gregory Blaine, senior, (6-0, 230)

G Tukuzdwa Taruvinga, senior, (5-11, 205)

C Max Burgos, senior, (5-10, 260)

WR Donte Waldron, senior, (6-1, 165)

WR Corey Ampey, senior, (6-0, 175)

QB Juwan Dolbrice, senior, (6-0, 195)

TB Kyle Phipps, senior, (5-8, 175)

HB Guirvenson Guillaume, junior, (5-10, 185)

TE Khalil Burns, senior, (6-1, 200)

TE-RB Tymir Hinton, senior, (6-0, 185)

PK Corey Ampey, senior, (6-0, 175)

Returning starters (5):Burgos, Dolbrice,

Phipps, Burns, Hinton.



T Jerrell VanDevere, senior, (6-4, 225)

T Gregory Blaine, senior, (6-0, 230)

E Khalil Burns, senior, (6-1, 200)

E Zyshonne Small, junior, (6-0, 225)

LB Guirvenson Guillaume, junior, (5-10, 185)

MLB Tymir Hinton, senior, (6-0, 185)

LB Antoine Powell, senior, (5-11, 195)

LB Maslin Pierre, senior, (5-9, 165)

S Samad Starling, junior, (5-11, 160)

C Juwan Dolbrice, senior, (6-0, 195)

C Kyle Phipps, senior, (5-8, 175)

P Corey Ampey, senior, (6-0, 175)

Returning starters: (5): Burns, Hinton,

Starling, Dolbrice, Ampey.



Head Coach: Deon Candia, since 2008.

A 1991 Linden graduate.

Seventh season: 32-30 (.516)

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Watchung

Section: North 2, Group 5

Linden’s last sectional title: 1985

2013: (7-4 and 4-2, second in Watchung Division)

Cooper Field: Field Turf.

Candia has guided Linden to sectional semifinal

appearances the past two seasons, in North 2, Group 4

in 2012 and during its first season in North 2, Group 5

last year. The Tigers are seeking to reach their first

sectional final in 29 years.



Sept. 12 at Immaculata, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 Plainfield, 1 p.m.

Sept. 26 at Montgomery, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2 Westfield, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Scotch Plains, 2 p.m.

Oct. 17 North Hunterdon, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 Ridge, 7 p.m.

Nov. 7 at Elizabeth, 7 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Union, 10:30 a.m.

Head coach: Deon Candia,

seventh season


2013 LINDEN TIGERS (7-4)

(H) North Hunterdon 20, Linden 7

(H) Linden 34, Plainfield 0

(A) Ridge 20, Linden 14 (OT)

(A) Linden 20, Montgomery 16

(H) Linden 26, Immaculata 6

(A) Elizabeth 36, Linden 20

(H) Linden 17, Watchung Hills 10

(A) Linden 34, Bridgewater-Raritan 14

(A) Linden 23, Bayonne 0

(A) Ridge 28, Linden 14

(H) Linden 27, Union 8

Head coach: Deon Candia,

sixth season

Section: North 2, Group 5

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Watchung 4-2, second

Record: 7-4

Home: 4-1

Away: 3-3

Points for: 236

Points against: 158

Shutouts: 2

Overtime: 0-1