CHATHAM, NJ - A year ago, Chatham's unprecedented success on the football field was a credit to the 21 seniors who knew their roles so well that it was like they were playing AP (Advanced Placement) football.
Today, the Chatham coaches are preparing for their Friday, Sept. 9, season opener at Barringer in Newark's Schools Stadium by going back to the basics. Chatham head coach Jason Izsa, voted the 2015 Morris County Coach of the Year by his peers, and offensive coordinator Steve Trivino knew that teaching was going to be a big part of the preseason with so many new faces.
"The days of AP football are over," Trivino said. "We talked about it all summer long, we have to go back and teach the basics of everything."
Senior Timmy Adams, Chatham's "Mr. Everything," will play quarterback, place kick, punt and line up at a number of positions in the Cougars' no-huddle, "speed ball" offense. Senior Pat Cosgrove, playing quarterback for the first time since he was a freshman, has given the offense more versatility.
"Because Cosgrove has shown he can run the offense, that's a huge plus," Trivino said. "Timmy (Adams) is going to be everywhere. This way you can't scheme for what he's going to do."
Trivino is looking for another backup at quarterback and sophomore Ryan Lonergan has put himself in the mix by showing Trivino "he knows what he's doing."
Adams has come into camp so prepared that Trivino plans on holding him back some during the preseason.
"We're going to treat him like Eli Manning. He's not going to get a lot of work in the preseason, just enough to keep him fresh," Trivino said. "If the same Timmy that showed up this year, was here in the first days of camp last year, Alex (Sands, last year's QB) would have never seen the field," Trivino said.
"That's how much better he is than he was last year. His confidence, the way he throws the ball, the way he runs the offense. It's like he's saying, 'my turn.' It's a lot different when you're not dominated by 21 seniors."
The newcomers at the skill positions on offense include receivers Chris Francesco, Max Schelling, Jack Maguire and Thomas Lofaro. Francesco, who transferred in from Delbarton last spring, appears to have the best speed among that group.
Francesco, Schelling (also a QB), Christian Cuttita, Cosgrove and Maguire all figure to play in Chatham's defensive secondary.
The running backs include Drew Sardini, Jake Wingate and Paddy Donohue, all "similar body types to Matt Nestler ," according to Trivino.
Senior tri-captain Graham LeMon (6-7, 295) and junior Ryan Ness are the most experience linemen returning.
Chatham will get on the field for its first scrimmage, 9 a.m. Tuesday at Gov. Livingston in Berkeley Heights.
Senior tri-captain Pat Cosgrove will play quarterback for the first time since his freshman year
Versatile senior tri-captain Timmy Adams will concentrate on offense, but will still do the kicking and punting for Chatham
Back to basics: Chatham practices proper tackling techniques during the first week of training