September 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM
MILLBURN NJ – The Millburn High School boys have trained hard all summer and are looking to start the football season on a high note. On Sept. 23, Millburn looks to make an opening day statement when they face-off against their cross-county foe, Livingston High School. Coach Patrick Leonardis will once again be the Miller’s head coach.
The Millers have a very friendly schedule this year. Six of the team’s nine games are home this year, and majority of their home games are on Friday nights. A significant game for Millburn this season will be on Oct.18 against West Essex when the Millers look to claim their home-field territory on Friday night in Millburn’s annual Play For Pink game.
There have been many different traditions implemented on the Millers football squad. Many Millers this season are growing out their beards as a sign of unity between them.
“It is traditions like these that keep the team together,” linebacker Dan Grinshpun said.
The Millers are greeted with a new locker room this season. Last season, the Millers' bleachers were redone and the locker room will complete this three-year project. With new facial hair, a locker room, and a new group of guys, the players look to improve upon last year’s season where they were knocked out of the post season in their first playoff game.
The Millers hope to build on last year’s successes in which they finished with a 4-4 record and lost in the playoffs. Last season was the first time the Millers made the playoffs in recent history. This season will be Coach Patrick Leonardis’ second year as the team’s head coach. Prior to heading the Miller football staff, Leonardis was an assistant coach for Montclair High School. Millburn’s assistant coaches this year are coaches Pittenger, Fiorelli, Muroki, Tiseo, Delgado, Ferro, and Perkins.
Leading the Miller’s offense this year is junior Jared Harris. Last season, Harris was one of Millburn’s most explosive wide receivers and outside linebackers. In 2012 Harris was one of Millburn’s top contributors and hopes to yield a similar result this season as he lines up behind center. Sophomore Zack Weinstein was the first string quarterback heading into camp, but going into Livingston’s game, Harris will get the nod at quarterback.
Harris will have many potential targets this season. Seniors Gabe Greenberg and Evan Steinfeld look like they will be highly essential this year. Greenberg will be one of Millburn’s top starting wide receivers. Greenberg said, “We're looking forward to a great season and hopefully make it back to the playoffs.” Steinfeld will be starting at tight end and defensive end. Steinfeld said, "The team is tired of being disrespected. Last year built the foundation for this program and it is our responsibility (as seniors) to build on that foundation.”
Senior Jake Solomon and sophomore, Nick Minter will fill a big hole in the Millburn backfield left by last year’s running back, Alex Schoen who currently is a running back for the Syracuse Orangemen.
Solomon will not only contribute as the team’s running back but will also be one of Millburn’s starting cornerbacks this year. Jake is a very versatile player on both sides of the ball. Solomon said, "We have high expectations. A goal of ours is to definitely do better than last year after losing in the first round of the playoffs. As far as Livingston goes, we are confident that we can win on Saturday by playing on all cylinders."
The team has five returning starters on offense and defense. This will be a very young Miller squad and will have big expectations this year. The Millers hope to go far this year under Leonardis who will be Millburn’s coach for the second consecutive season.
Jake Pickard, stands at 6’6" and is a playmaker that can disrupt other teams’ plans. Pickard will be on the defensive line this year and hopefully will cause havoc on opposing team’s offenses. Pickard is also on the special teams squad and is the team’s starting punter. A junior, Pickard said, “Our goal is to make it past the first round of the playoffs and build off that to get to a state championship. Our team is going in is very strong and solid. All of our starters have Great potential and when we get firing on all cylinders were unstoppable and with Leo and his staff pushing us to our limit every practice, were going to be a force to recon with. And one goal is that being from Millburn, we have many doubters who don't believe in us and don't know the amount of work and time our coaching staff and we put in and we plan on shutting them up. No matter who we face this year, they'll leave the field knowing Millburn football is a force to be reckoned with.”
Included in the five returning seniors are Dan Grinshpun and Brent Abrams. Abrams led the team in tackles last year, and looks to do so again this year. Grinshpun and Abrams combined for over 250 tackles last year. Grinshpun is also the Miller’s starting center. Millburn’s middle linebackers are Brent Abrams and Dan Grinshpun. Behind the line is the Miller’s secondary, which consists of senior Gabe Greenberg as well as sophomores Dean Schweinler and John Serruto. Greenberg starts on both sides of the ball and is one of the Miller’s top players. Gabe plays cornerback and wide receiver. The senior’s on this year’s offensive line include Brent Abrams, Matthew Policarpio, Dan Grinshpun, and Noah Lisser. Policarpio will be starting on the line on both sides of the ball.