Team Preview: West Essex

2009 In Review: The Knights were 8-3, losing to Ramsey in the North Jersey Section 1 Group 2 semifinals, after beating Pequannock. They scored 280 points for a 25.45 average, while allowing 177 for a 16.09 average. Wins included Columbia, Nutley, and Shabazz.
Departures: HB/CB Mike Cimilluca - Georgetown, FB/LB John Locasio - Villanova for lacrosse, DT Angelo Dominick - William Paterson, G/DT David Gomez - Kean
Offense: West Essex runs the Wing-T and returns four starters and three others with experience. The quarterback will be senior Tyler Fossetta (5-foot-11, 190), who was the starter, but missed most of the season with a knee injury. One halfback will be senior Henry Zimmerman (5-foot-11, 200), who played, but injuries forced him to miss significant time. The other halfback will be either Steve O'Neil (5-foot-10, 185) or Ralph Velardi(5-foot-10, 175), who are both juniors. At fullback there is a battle between senior Chris Kitchin (5-foot-10, 185) and junior Garrett Rees (5-foot-11, 185).
Senior Mike D'Annunzio (5-foot-11, 170) returns at split end. At tight end, senior Anthony Gonnella (6-foot-2, 210) brings some experience after seeing time last season.
Three starters return to the line: the tackles and a guard. Junior Dominick Valeriani (6-foot-0, 270) and senior Grant McGuire (5-foot-10, 245) are back as tackles and senior Kyle Kitchin (6-foot-1, 215) is back at guard. The other guard will be senior Kevin Glenn (5-foot-11, 195). Center is open, with junior Matt Rando (5-foot-8, 180) and sophomore Mike Realbato (6-foot-2, 245) competing.
Defense: The Knights run a 4-3 and return five starters and a couple of others with experience. Glenn returns at end, with Gonnella playing opposite him. Valeriani returns at tackle, while nose guard is a battle or possible rotation of McGuire and Kyle Kitchin.
One starter and another with experience return at linebacker. Chris Kitchin is a returning starter in the middle, moving over from the strong side. Rees will be the strongside backer, and he saw some time last year. Senior Frank Mariotta (5-foot-11, 180) will be starting on the weakside, after sitting out the last two years. Mariotta is also an accomplished wrestler.
Two starters return to the secondary, with D'Annunzio at cornerback and O'Neil at strong safety. Fossetta started at free safety, until he was shelved with his injury. He'll start there this year, but senior Mike Mitchell (6-foot-0, 180) may force a three man rotation at the position. Either Velardi and junior Anthony Pompei (5-foot-9, 175) will be the other cornerback.
Special Teams: Pompei will be the kicker and Zimmerman will punt. Zimmerman and Velardi are the return men.
Schedule: Saturday 9/11, Delbarton, 2PM; Friday 9/17, Caldwell, 3PM; Friday 9/24, Belleville, 7:30PM; Friday 10/1, at Millburn, 7PM; Friday 10/8, Nutley, 7:30; Friday 10/15, at Shabazz, 7PM; Friday 10/22, East Side, 7:30PM; Saturday 10/30, at Columbia, 1PM; Friday 11/5, Barringer, 7:30PM
Question Marks: Kicking game and the passing game. They like their quarterback, but a good passing game will make their ground game even more potent.
Recruiting: Many are D2 or D3 types and Fossetta may go the lacrosse route. The top junior right now is Valleriani, a good player who is short.
Coach's Comments: "We're going to be good, we just don't know how good. We have three offensive linemen back, as opposed to having nobody back last year." - Head Coach Dave Drozjock