CLARK, NJ – The Arthur L. Johnson Crusaders boys’ varsity football team takes to the field tonight with a new head coach at the helm. Assistant coach Anthony DelConte was named the 15th head coach of the team during a Board of Education meeting in July. He had been on the staff since the 2011 season, his first year as a teacher at the school.
“It’s an honor [to be named the new Johnson Football head coach],” DelConte said. “It’s an honor, from going through the high school, being part of this program, being part of the community. It’s a big honor to me. It’s hard to imagine when you play here, that you’d come back and be a head coach. I’m excited to give back and give the same impact to these kids that this program had on me, and I’m really pumped up for it.”
DelConte graduated from ALJ in 2006. Throughout his years as a football player at Johnson he played the positions of fullback and defensive end.
He then attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he continued to play football. He earned his master’s degree from the university in math/education.
In addition to football, DelConte coaches Crusaders track and field in the winter and spring, working with the field athletes in discus and shot put.
DelConte talked about what he wanted to emphasize in the players in practices each week throughout summer training.
“Toughness, discipline and a family atmosphere,” he said. “We need to be a tough program. I want to make sure the kids are tough. I want them to be disciplined because we’re in some tough games. We have competitive teams on our schedule this year. We need to make sure that we are tough and disciplined in a lot of situations so that we are able to get the job done. And family, if we’re a tight group, these guys will be playing for each other because that’s what important and what we need.”
Ultimately, DelConte has one major goal he hopes to accomplish in his first year as head coach.
“[My goal is] just to make sure that the program is heading in the right direction,” he said. “I’m not looking to take big leaps or big bounds. I just want to make sure I do right by the kids, do right by the community, and that this program is going in the right direction. Coach Mancino did a good job of turning the program and get it heading in the direction that it should be. I just want to pick up right where he left off.”
The Crusaders will also look to get back to the state playoffs, after missing out on them last year.
“We’re extremely excited to have Coach DelConte on board,” said Gus Kalikas, the athletic director of the Clark Public School District. Kalikas was the team’s head coach when DelConte played as a Crusader.
“When Coach played back in 2005 for the Crusaders, he was the true Crusader, bled Crusader Blue,” Kalikas continued. “He breathed, ate, and slept and truly loved Johnson football. So, to see him take over the program is exciting. He loves the Crusader tradition, he loves the student athletes, and I think that we’re in good hands with coach DelConte.”
The Crusaders begin their season on Friday, Sept. 12 against Bernards on the road; game time is 7:30 p.m. The team’s home opener is Friday, Sept. 19 against Voorhees. Other notable opponents on the team’s schedule include Delaware Valley at home (Sept. 26), at Governor Livingston (Oct. 3) and home against Rahway (Nov. 27).