ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury High School sports fans can look forward to another year of high-level competition even though the school lost many star players to graduation in June, said athletic director Stuart Mason.
It’s a concern that rises often - the fear that the departure of talented senior athletes will leave a team bereft of competitiveness. But, more often than not, new names rise to the top as the next season unfolds.
“Last year was another really successful year for the Gaels,” Mason said. “It was tremendous and the senior class was an excellent one that had several athletes who moved on to participate at the collegiate level.”
Having watched many of this year’s Roxbury teams prepare for their season premieres, Mason said he and his colleagues are optimistic. We’re really excited about the student athletes we have this year,” he said. “The coaches and athletes have been working very hard all summer and I think it’s going to be a great fall.”
The football team’s first game, a contest against Morristown at home, takes place Sept. 8. The event has been designated “Jr. Gaels Night” and hopes are high that the pre-high school players in attendance will see a good game.
“The football players had a great summer and worked really hard in the weight room,” Mason said. “They continue to impress me by how hard they work.”
Mason said he believes quarterback Donovan Brady “is going have an excellent year,” noting the senior “is surrounded by several great seniors all over the place,” including Michael Roumes. Mason is confident Roumes will fill the void left by Tucker Voelbel’s graduation.
The athletic director hopes people will take a good look at the skill displayed at the season opener - at at all the games - by the high school’s cheer team. “The cheerleaders have been doing a great job and I’m looking forward to Friday night lights and what they bring to the experience.” he said. Mason cited, as an example, senior Brianne Rousseau: “She a great kid and I think this is really a great group of kids.”
The girls volleyball team, for the second year in a row, lost a senior who went on to play Division 1 college volleyball, but Mason said he and the coaches “think the team is in great shape” to do well. “We’re opening the season ranked 20th in the state,” Mason said. “Jenna Shirkey is a returning all-conference player and is providing leadership for a really good group of athletes.”
Last year’s field hockey team was the first from Roxbury to make it to the final four in the Morris County Tournament. “We hope to build of that success with this year’s group,” Mason said, noting that the team lost quite a few seniors. “It’s a young group, but Emma Karnitsky is a senior and she has a tremendous amount of experience.”
The girls tennis team is likely to see great things from senior Casey Hascup, Mason said. “We look to see her qualify for the state tournament again and for the team to have a successful year. Coach Flynn is really excited.”
The boys cross-country squad has a new head coach, Roxbury graduate Derek Bischoff, who was an assistant football coach. “I’m really excited about this year’s team, Mason said. “Jacob Dino and Dylan Gasziorowski are already breaking personal records in training.”
The girls cross-country program is likely to be led by returning runners Kelly Tucker and Ashley Matthews. Mason said the team “worked very hard” during the summer, hoping to compensate for the loss of several fleet-footed seniors in June.
Moving to girls soccer, Mason said he believes the team has a “real chance” to win its fourth consecutive Morris County championship. “They are going to be a strong force in the county,” he said. “Sarah Olivero is one of the top goaltenders in state and we are looking to Ashleigh Serafin to continue to score big goals.”
On the boys side of the soccer equation, Mason said he saw “a lot of success” in pre-season scrimmage action. “Sean Thom stood out, as well as several other players,” he commented.
In a nutshell, Mason is confident Roxbury’s coaches have prepared a group of teams that will make the town proud. “We have an outstanding coaching staff,” he noted. “I would put our coaching staff up against the coaching staff of any college. They are dedicated to their athletes and to helping them have the best possible experience.”