CHESTER, NJ - Dan Czepiga believes his team is ahead of where it was at this time last year when he began his first campaign as the Chatham football coach. One reason is that the Cougars' preseason scrimmage opponents have been playoff quality teams.
"The goal was to schedule a team that's in our group for the playoffs that's been historically a really good team and come out there and show the guys where we've got to be," Czepiga said. "The beautiful thing is that we're 0-0."
Chatham was on the short end of a 34-2 score at West Morris on Friday night, a program that has won seven state sectional championships. The Wolverines took advantage of two early interceptions to build a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and led at halftime, 34-0.
"Last year, we won a scrimmage against Bernards and we were 2-8," Czepiga said. "It's not about winning these games, it's about getting work in. We used this game to get an idea of who can play. We're going to watch the film and by Tuesday, figure out who is going to be playing (in the opener)."
Chatham begins the 2019 season on Sept. 7 at Morris Hills. One of the biggest decisions he'll have to make Tuesday is who will be the starting quarterback, either junior Luke McAloon or senior Ryan Coughlin. Both threw an interception in the first period.
"Any time you play a team like that it's going to be difficult," Czepiga said. "We have to clean some things up. We didn't use a lot of the plays we're going to use vs. Morris Hills. I feel we're ahead of last year, for sure. We just have to keep going. Whether that means we'll win more games or not, we'll see."
COUGAR NOTES: Chatham scored its only points late in the third quarter when junior Sean Pellegrin made a tackle in the end zone ... QB McAloon engineered a drive to the West Morris 23 that ended with a field goal attempt by senior Quinn Kelly that was short. In the drive, McAloon hit senior Jack Powers for a 23-yard pass play, Peter Schelling broke a 12-yard run and Kelly pulled in a 13-yard pass from McAloon.
Chatham QB Ryan Coughlin throws deep to Emmett Hynes
Chatham QB Luke McAloon hits receiver Quinn Kelly with the pass
Chase Carlin pulls in a sideline pass from QB Collin Fitzgerald
Ryan Coughlin gains ground yardage with a keeper
Sophomore Stuart Garrett catches a pass from Ryan Coughlin