LIVINGSTON, NJ — Only two games into the 2017 season, the Livingston High School varsity football team, currently 1-1 on the season, is improving every day and striving to secure a spot in the playoffs in the face of a daunting schedule.
“If we can get ourselves in that race, so to speak, and have that last game of the season mean something as far as getting us to the playoffs, or even securing a playoff birth in the top four, that’s where we want to be and that’s what we’re striving to do,” said Lancers head coach Robert Breschard. “We look at the little picture every day, but with the big picture, my goal is always to get ourselves to that spot.”
Breschard said the 2017 varsity team is a healthy mix of everything of veterans and first-time starters. The senior football class, with a total of 18 players, is made up of both returning impact players and some players who are getting their first taste of varsity football this year.
Seniors this year include: Ryan Cardona, Jared Goldman, Ricky Marino, Corey Rosenbaum, Noah Kudish, Tyrell Garnes, Nick Rivera, Anthony Petrillo, Eddie McGovern, Daniel Weiss, Hrithik Salandra, Mark Poole, Brett Kurland, Ryan Valese, Kristian Torres, Jovan Sandiford, Eddie Kasmin and Ken Newman.
“They’re a great group of leaders,” said Breschard. “They’ve done a tremendous job of setting the tone for practice—knowing when to be light and make it fun and they know when to get down to the business aspect of it. I believe in that, that you need to be able to balance it.”
Breschard also spoke highly of this season’s captains, including Daniel Weiss, who was named captain last year. Breschard said he considers Weiss as almost an extension of the regular coaching staff.
Junior Joe Cullen, coming off his sophomore year as the team leader in tackles, was also named a captain this year, which Breschard said is nearly unheard of in Livingston football.
“Being captain as a junior is really something special—that ain’t gonna happen all the time, I’ll be honest with you,” said Breschard. “It’s really nice to have somebody who can reach out to those younger kids and be like, ‘I’m one of you, and I understand’ and be able to have that highway of communication to those underclassmen. I trust him with my life—that’s the type of kid he is. He’s a great kid, a great student and he’s just a tremendous person.”
After an impressive sophomore season, Cullen is going to become an even bigger part of the Lancers’ offense in 2017, according to Breschard, who said his plan is to give Cullen more field time and get the ball to him as much as possible.
The Lancers’ season opener against Randolph on Sept. 1 was a true battle, according to their coach. Despite the 18-15 defeat, Breschard said the entire team was fired up about the performance and what’s to come.
“I told the kids when we got home, it was a heavy-weight championship fight,” he said. “And I mean that in the way that we gave them shots, they gave us shots, we responded, they responded—it came down to two minutes left on the clock with two timeouts left and we had the ball. We did not execute the way we hoped, but I was very proud with how hard they played and their focus and their desire.”
Throughout the game, Petrullo, Garnes and Cardona added points to the board: Anthony Petrullo returned a punt return for a touchdown; Tyrell Garnes returned a kickoff return for a touchdown; and Ryan Cardona kicked a field goal.
According to Breschard, the team struggled offensively but has adjusted tactics since then and improved in time for Saturday’s game against Millburn.
On Millburn’s home turf, Livingston scored three touchdowns in less than four minutes to secure a 27-12 victory.
See the complete coverage of Saturday’s game HERE.
The Lancers return to their home turf on Friday against Montclair at 7 p.m.