LIVINGSTON, NJ — There is a case to be made that the 2018 Livingston football team might have been one of the best in the entire state to not qualify for the NJSIAA playoffs.
The Lancers' 7-3 record was the best at the school in 10 years, but the vagaries of a Born Power Index criteria for playoff selection which many high school football insiders around the state believed was misguided kept Livingston out of the post-season because of its perceived strength-of-schedule deficiencies.
The playoff criteria has been altered again this season, and, while the Lancers will be taking the field in 2019 with a significantly different lineup than they had a year ago, head coach Bob Breschard still believes the team is capable of big things.
Livingston opens the season at home Friday night at 7 p.m. against Randolph, a tough opponent that handed the Lancers an opening-night loss in Randolph last year. But Livingston moved on from that defeat to win seven of its last nine games.
"We have a strong junior class that will support the experience we have in our senior class," Breschard said.
Some of those seniors include new starting quarterback Will Egner, an accomplished athlete whose exploits on the baseball diamond at the Oval are well-documented; fullback Brian Russo, a lacrosse standout who has already scored more than 100 career goals in that sport; and wideout Luke Nardone, who also is an all-conference lacrosse player. Egner shifts from wideout last year to move behind center this season.
So, even without the considerable skills that graduated QB Jack Ernst and HB/LB Joe Cullen brought to the gridiron, Livingston appears to have a formidable offensive attack. Russo and Nardone played big roles in last year's offensive scheme. Junior halfback Sam Danchak also saw varsity time last year and will be another key offensive contributor.
On defense, Russo and Danchak will lineup at inside linebacker, Egner at outside linebacker and Nardone in the secondary.
Three seniors will help comprise the offensive and defensive lines: Zach Greenberg, Andrew Cilenti and Max Korfin. Junior Thomas Gangi also will play up front.
Senior WR/DB Michael Petrillo and junior RB/DB Anthony Barbella are two skill position players who could also make a measurable impact this season.
In addition to Randolph, a perennially tough Morris County program, Livingston will have major challenges such as Montclair, East Orange and West Orange on its schedule.
LIVINGSTON FOOTBALL 2019 SCHEDULE:
Sept. 6: vs. Randolph, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Bayonne, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: vs. Pope John, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 (THU.): at East Side, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 (SAT.): vs. West Orange, 3 p.m.
Oct. 11: vs. Bloomfield, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 (SAT.): at East Orange, 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: vs. Montclair, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1: at Columbia, 7 p.m.