CLARK, NJ — Last year Sean Kessock became the first freshman to start on both sides of the ball for coach Anthony DelConte at Arthur L. Johnson High School. This year, the sophomore lineman is the only returning starter on offense and one of just four on defense.
Despite Johnson’s low number of experienced players or prominent upperclassmen, Kessock’s impact is beginning to take form, and that’s a good thing for the Crusaders.
“He’s a tough, physical player that wants to win,” DelConte said. “However, he’s nowhere near his potential.”
Kessock is Johnson’s right guard on offense and one of the starting tackles on defense, along with returning senior Dante Montuori.
“We feel that Sean can truly be a dominant player in the future,” DelConte said. “He can be someone that will open people’s eyes.
“On defense he’s not easy to move, and, on offense, once he gets on someone, he’s moving them.”
Kessock and the remainder of the offensive line have the assignment of keeping first-year quarterback Jason Hernandez well-protected.
“Jason loves to compete, and this is his shot,” DelConte said. “He wasn’t able to get much experience last year, so there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
According to DelConte, Hernandez is 100 percent a runner, very shifty, in Johnson’t triple-option scheme. When it comes to him passing the ball, DelConte said, “He does what he has to do.”
“That’s our theme: a lot of room for improvement, all around,” DelConte said.
The other two returning starters on defense are junior linebacker Vincent Pisano and Hernandez at safety.
“Vincent is in the Mike spot in our 4-3, he’s the guy,” DelConte said. “He plays with a motor that doesn’t stop.”
Johnson, halted by COVID-19 situations last year, managed to play just four games. The lone victory was a 35-17 triumph at Point Pleasant Beach, which came four days after their first game was contested on Oct. 12.
“Last year can be classified for us as having an ‘ability to make things happen in a split second,’” DelConte said. “Because of what we had to deal with concerning the virus, there were other things we didn’t have to concern ourselves with.
“We were so focused on playing and still are. We just want to get out there and play football and do whatever it takes.”
Johnson’s first two games and four of its first five are on the road. Then the Crusaders get to stay home to play three straight at Nolan Field.
The Crusaders open at Brearley on Sept. 2, a 6 p.m. kickoff at Ward Field in Kenilworth. The last time they clashed was in Clark on Sept. 30, 2011, which was a 33-9 Crusader victory. The last time they faced each other in Kenilworth was on Oct. 1, 2010, with Brearley winning that time by a score of 17-14 in double overtime.
JOHNSON CRUSADERS 2021
Sept. 2 at Brearley, 6 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Metuchen, 6 p.m.
Sept. 17 vs. South River, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 at Roselle, 6 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Spotswood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 vs. North Plainfield, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 at Gov. Livingston, 1 p.m.
Head coach: Anthony DelConte, eighth season
JOHNSON’S TRIPLE-OPTION OFFENSE:
LT Nicholas Pingor, senior (5-11, 175)
LG Vittorio DeMartinis, sophomore (5-10, 200)
C Aaron Tapia, sophomore (5-8, 225)
RG Sean Kessock, sophomore (6-0, 280)
RT Steve McCaffery, junior (6-0, 200)
QB Jason Hernandez, senior (5-9, 165)
FB Vincent Pisano, junior (5-10, 205)
RB Braeden Downey, junior (5-9, 150)
RB Giani De Paz, senior (6-1, 175)
TE Nicholas King, junior (5-8, 155)
SE Dylan Perrotto, junior (5-11, 150)
PK Brett Makowsky, junior, (5-11, 140)
Returning starters (1): Kessock.
JOHNSON’S 4-3 DEFENSE:
E Steve McCaffery, junior (6-0, 200)
T Sean Kessock, sophomore (6-0, 280)
T Dante Montuori, senior (5-11, 270)
E Nicholas Pingor, senior (5-11, 175)
MLB Vincent Pisano, junior (5-10, 205)
WLB Dylan Perrotto, junior (5-11, 150)
SLB Jason Greenbush, junior (6-1, 180)
CB Braeden Downey, junior (5-9, 150)
CB Nicholas King, junior (5-8, 155)
S Jason Hernandez, senior (5-9, 165)
S Emilio Meniccuci, sophomore (5-9, 160)
P Brett Makowsky, junior (5-11, 140)
Returning starters (4): Kessock, Montuori, Pisano and Hernandez.
2020 JOHNSON CRUSADERS (1-3)
Oct. 12 (A): Bernards 39, Johnson 14
Oct. 16 (A): Johnson 35, Point Pleasant Beach 17
Oct. 24 (A): Gov. Livingston 27, Johnson 7
Oct. 30 (H): Hillside 39, Johnson 7
Head coach: Anthony DelConte, seventh season
Section: South Group 2
Conference: Big Central
Points for: 63
Points against: 122