CHATHAM, NJ - It will be the first game of the 2013 football season, but Don Morgenroth can be excused for reminiscing a little bit.
The new Montville head coach is likely to experience the flood of emotions that come from a homecoming when his team visits Cougar Field in Chatham Thursday to play against the team he coached the last four seasons.
"It's definitely emotional right now," said Morgenroth when reached by phone recently. "I just got done watching film on (Chatham). There are a lot of thoughts going through my head. You get attached to kids. I saw them as freshmen. It's going to be weird wearing different colors and sitting at the stadium I've been the last four years."
Morgenroth left Parsippany to take a teaching position in Montville and quickly became the head football coach in June when the job opened up. Soon after, his Chatham assistant, Jason Izsa, became the new head coach at Chatham, with the help of Morgenroth's recommendation.
"We're very good friends and he's taught me a lot," Izsa said. "I received some good grooming from him without even knowing it. We still talk now. We don't mention the game. We just talk football and everyday stuff."
Morgenroth's final season at Chatham was 0-10, coinciding with the move to Group 3 and a tougher schedule from the likes of National Division teams in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference. Chatham has lost 11 straight since a 10-7 victory in 2011 over Bernards in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 playoffs. The game was won on a 33-yard field goal by Dave Fiumara in the closing seconds.
"I have some great memories," Morgenroth said. "I remember the parents I got to work with. I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Now that he's at Montville, he's looking at the Chatham players differently this week. The film Morgenroth has is of the last scrimmage Chatham played against High Point.
"I want both teams to come out of the game safe and without injuries, but right now I'm looking for weaknesses we can exploit," Morgenroth said. "Because I know the players, it makes it a little easier to match up guys on the field. I think their decision to go to the Wing T is going pretty well."
Actually, it was Morgenroth who suggested Izsa switch to the Wing T from the triple option he had been running with the Cougars. It made sense to Izsa since the Wing T was what he knew best as a player and a coach. Morgenroth was the expert on the triple option.
"When it came to the grand scheme of things, he was the guy who knew the triple option," Izsa said. "I'm a Wing T guy and all the guys on my staff have Wing T coaching experience."
When pressed, Morgenroth chose his first Chatham team, the 2009 squad that made the playoffs as his favorite.
"I really felt like our first team was very talented," Morgenroth said. "Rob Guida was a running back, his brother, Nick, was the quarterback. We also had Mac Ahsler, Kyle McDonough, Sean Black and Jeff Frick. We were 6-3 in the conference and lost to Caldwell in the playoffs."