LIVINGSTON, NJ — With only two regular-season games left in his senior season on the Livingston varsity football team, Joe Cullen remains a standout for the Lancers as well as the Liberty Blue division of the Super Football Conference (SFC).
Despite Friday night’s loss to East Orange Campus after four consecutive wins, Livingston remains at the top of the conference (3-1). As the leader of the pack, Cullen is not only a second-year captain, but also leads the team in tackles (65) and rushing yards (615), averaging roughly 103 yards per game.
In fact, Cullen was recently presented with a "Jersey Sports Zone Game Ball" for being named the top Week 5 performer in North Jersey high school football after his 10 tackles, 155 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Lancers’ victory over Bloomfield.
“He’s the leader of the team,” said head coach Robert Breschard. “We have six full-time captains, and Joey is kind of like the captain of the captains. He’s the type of kid I can leave at practice and I probably wouldn’t even need to be there—he’ll be able to coach them and he will still get better.”
Breschard described Cullen as the player who sets the tone for the team and leads by example.
On the field, Cullen “sees things that are hard to see from the sideline,” according to Breschard, who referenced a recent victory in which Cullen and teammate Brian Russo suggested a slight adjustment that ultimately led the Lancers to shut down their opponent. Off the field, Breschard said Cullen’s role “is always expanding.”
“I’m expecting him now in the second half to kind of push us into the playoffs and keep us on the right track,” he said. “He’s really good at that—he measures the team and what they need to hear and what’s going on in their heads. He’s really mature in that way and he’s very bright when it comes to understanding people.”
Both on and off the field, Breschard said that Cullen is “a really special kid.”
“He’s probably one of the top kids that’s ever played for me; he might be it,” said Breschard. “It’s tough to find someone who does everything that Joe does. The kids actually bust his chops all the time saying that he’s too perfect.”
Although there are still two crucial games to be played, both against conference opponents, Cullen can already see that the Lancers' hard work over the summer has paid off.
“These next couple of games are going to be battles that not only have huge implications on our conference, but also the state playoff seeding,” Cullen said prior to Friday’s game. “We are taking it one week and one opponent at a time right now, as our coaches have been game planning intensely for each opponent. Our team goals are to win the conference, earn a home playoff game and, of course, win a state championship.”
According to Breschard, multiple Ivy League schools currently have their eyes on Cullen. With the season that Cullen is having, Breschard said he hopes that “some of these Ivy League schools that have shown interest will really pop on him.”
“I do plan on playing football in college, but I have not made a decision as to where yet,” said Cullen. “My play throughout the rest of the season will play a big role in determining what schools end up offering me a scholarship. I will most likely decide where I will continue my academic and football career in December or January.”
Livingston, now 3-1 in the Liberty Blue division, is tied with Montclair at the top of the conference. With a 4-2 overall record thus far, the Lancers take on Montclair (4-3) on Saturday and Columbia (1-3 conference, 1-6 overall) on Oct. 26.
The Jersey Sports Zone video below features Cullen receiving the JSZ Game Ball for his Week 5 performance.