EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ — With chinstraps buckled and fingers crossed, the East Brunswick football team is about to embark on its delayed, condensed 2020 season.

The Bears are scheduled to open the season Friday night at home against J.P. Stevens. It will be the first of six scheduled regular season games on a slate that was delayed and shortened after the NJSIAA issued its adjustments for the 2020 campaign based on COVID-19 restrictions.

Two schools in the Greater Middlesex Conference, Piscataway and Carteret, made controversial early decisions in August to cancel their entire fall sports seasons. East Brunswick will play on, however.

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Last season, the Bears finished with a 4-5 record that was actually a positive step forward in head coach Andy Steinfeld's first season after decades as an assistant in the program where he once played in the 1980s.

The team has a good core of players back from that team, including senior quarterback Zach Zebro, a senior and one of the team's three captains, along with Thomas Wolfe, a two-way lineman, and WR/DB Matt Deguida.

The running game will be led by senior back Austin Percy and junior backs Romeo Diaz and Noriano Smith. Big tight end Devin Kennedy, a senior who's also a center on the basketball team, will also contribite as both a blocker and a receiver. 

Other returning starters include senior two-way lineman Etan Keith and junior WR/DBs Dylan Lugo and Thomas Jaycard.

"We return a lot of skill position players with varsity experience," Steinfeld said. "Zach Zebro will lead (our) offense this year. He did a great job last year as a junior. Now hoping his senior leadership will lead the team in 2020. The skill positions both on offense and defense are our strengths."

Zebro will be operating behind a partially rebuilt offensive line, though. The Bears need to replace four 2019 starters on the offensive line. Defensively, the Bears also lost a lot up front.

"I'm very happy with the effort in practice so far," Steinfeld said. "Filling the key spots that we lost from graduation will be the key to becoming a good offensive and defensive team. We look forward to that challenge, and there have been players who have stepped up are looking to get varsity playing time."

The line spots could be filled by senior Justin Scott and Tyler Conroy and junior Jason Soliman. Junior RB/LB Shawn Bernstein and junior RB/DB Jayden Phillip will also be looking to step up and make an impression.

"We're looking for a safe season for the Bears and every team we play," Steinfeld said. "Best of luck to all teams and stay safe."

10/2 (H) J.P. Stevens
10/9 (A) Old Bridge
10/16 (H) South Brunswick
10/23 (A) Perth Amboy
10/30 (H) Monroe
11/6 (A) Sayreville