KENILWORTH, NJ – When the twelve David Brearley High School Football Senior players talk about “finishing big” you may think that only has to do with capping off their season with a game winner this Saturday Dec. 5, against Hoboken in the NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 finals. But, when they refer to “finishing” it has a larger meaning. Senior Quarterback Sebastian Montesdeoca explains, “Coach Miller instills in us the idea of ‘finishing’, not just on the field but in life, whatever you set out to do, make it count, finish big.”
Although their eye now is on completing the season 12-0 and bringing the state title back to Brearley where it hasn’t been since 2006, all season they took it one game at a time. Senior Captain Erik Loneker comments, “The mentality has always been one game at a time, every season, from the first game to the big Conference Title win against New Providence and every one in between.”
Many of this group of twelve has been playing together since Pop Warner Football at the grade school level, including a title win during their eighth grade season. During their tenure at Brearley their record each season has considerably improved, the varsity team finished 2-8 their freshman year, 5-5 their sophomore year, 5-4-1 their junior year and now so far undefeated at 11-0 this year. Regardless of the ending record, each year the goal is the same the team says, “Coach Miller always has the same expectations of us, to win and play hard.” Senior Wide Receiver Evan Collier adds, “We are never going to be out conditioned when we line up against another team, never.”
Coach Scott Miller knows a few things about winning and preparation, besides reaching his 100th win as a coach this season, he played for two state championship Brearley football teams back in 1985 and 1986 then went onto play for the University of Pittsburgh.
With regular offseason training this past year, weight room sessions, watching films regularly together, the team chemistry that already existed was solidified. Montesdeoca comments, “We have a deep chemistry on and off the field with one another, we are a family, we trust each other and know how to motivate one another.”
The twelve are tight; they don’t just share practices and games, but meals and a lot of laughs. Senior Emmanuel Salado, the team nominated the most serious of the group, comments, “I’m going to miss our Friday dinners together post game and Monday nights too, we talk about everything and anything not solely football, we are a family.”
They also now even share the same hair color, as they are all dying their hair blonde as a show of solidarity for their final game together. And then there’s the pre-game superstitions, they always take a pre and post game team picture, many of them put their uniforms on in exactly the same order, Loneker wears the same socks and his Mother Stefanie hosts a weekly lunch. Collier walks the same path through the halls and wears a new unmolded mouthpiece each game and their Assistant Coach Dennis Lonergan also has his own custom, the players say he wears the same khakis and loops his belt a certain way.
Superstitions aside, they credit their success to their coaches, their teammates and also their trainer, Brian Jayne. They all chime in about what their trainer means to them, “He’s been a huge part of our success, training, getting us healthy for the next game, but also outside of football, he’s like a brother, another one of us that we can go to if we need anything or to talk.”
Loneker, according to the team is both the team jokester but also the motivator, right before each game he gives off the cuff speeches. Collier adds, “It’s like electricity going through your body, he doesn’t even know what he’s going to say, it’s heat of the moment and it works.”
Collier is the resident academic, he is a standout on and off the field, hoping to go onto college that both athletically and academically challenges him. He is looking at William & Mary, Bucknell and Lehigh University. His Mother Renee comments, “I don’t have to pressure him at all about academics he is very focused and when he’s playing a sport it makes him even more efficient and focused.”
Collier provides one final thought on what he’s learned most from Coach Miller, “My favorite saying that he’s shared, ‘The next step you take is more important than the previous ones’… it’s a driving force not just in football but in life.”
Brearley is one of only thirteen teams left unbeaten in the entire state and Saturday they hope to finish big and stay that way.