MILLBURN, NJ — The Millburn High School football team is scheduled to get its curtailed season off to a belated start with a 7:00 p.m. home game against Belleville on Friday.
Although parents and fans will be permitted to attend, capacity limits will be enforced, as well as rules about masking and social distancing. Only digital tickets will be sold, and tickets must be purchased before the day of the event.
What normally would be a nine-game regular season slate beginning in early or mid-September has been reworked into a six-game slate kicking off Oct. 2 in order to adapt to a new landscape altered by COVID-19 regulations and guidelines.
The Millers are coming off their most successful season in 16 years with a 7-3 record. One of those three losses was a 15-14 heartbreaker at the hands of Belleville.
"We have a lot of new starters on both sides of the ball," fifth-year Millburn head coach Chris Drechsel said. "We have a large senior class that we are looking towards to step in to fill some key roles."
Four senior receivers are returning from last season's team: Evan Gershoff, Connor Davisson, Luke Pickard and Robert Almgren. Also returning are a pair of running backs, senior Jake Zirlin and junior Mike Policarpio.
"We have a deep and experienced corps of wide receivers," Drechsel said.
The big change in the passing game will be at quarterback, following the graduation of two-year starter Shane Sullivan. Seniors Andrew Kanter and Luke Goldenberg and sophomore Conor Tuths have been taking snaps in the pre-season, vying for time at QB.
The coach identified a corps of players moving up a level who are expected to help this season, including senior WR/CB Jackson Weber, senior WR/CB Brett Basarab, WR/LB Dajea Semelfort, senior OG/DE: Jake Horne, junior OT/DL Zach Lane and WR/LB Jack Knechtel.
"We are fast and athletic across the board on defense," said Drechsel, who added that linebackers Davisson, Zirlin and Pickard and safeties Almgren and Gershoff will play key roles on defense as well as offensively.
The schedule is not an easy one. A Week 3 matchup with state-ranked Newark West Side looms, and matchups with Columbia and Orange figure to offer challenges, as well.
Millburn is scheduled to close out its regular-season schedule by renewing a rivalrly with its longtime traditional Thanksgiving foe Madison. The game won't be on Thanksgiving this year, but on Nov. 7. The two programs last met on Thanksgiving in 2017.