VERONA, NJ - Coming off a solid year at 7-3 and a trip to the State Section Semifinals the Verona football team has high hopes, but is taking nothing for granted. 

    “Our whole mantra is to take it one game at a time.  We’re going to lineup every week and get prepared the best we can prepare for everyone we’re playing that week and just try and take care of one game at a time,” said Head Coach Kevin Batty. 

    Verona brings back Cael Zebrowski at quarterback this year. Zebrowski will look to grow in his sophomore season as a signal caller for the Hillbillies. 

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    “[Zebrowski] has matured a lot.  He’s just grown up. He got bigger.  He got stronger -- he got faster,” said Batty.

    Zebrowski will have a nice familiarity with his receivers as his two starting pass catchers return. Red-zone threat Jake McConnachie and Steven Petro will provide the outside threats for the Hillbillies. Patrick Yeates will also return as the team’s slot receiver.

    “We have three of our four starting receivers back from last year which is nice,” said Batty

    Along the offensive line Verona will continue to remain stout. Returning six players with starting experience including seniors Nick Gonzalez, Nick Algieri, Isaac Skrivanic and Ryan Stanisci to man the line. Senior Griffin Jordan and junior Brian Curry will also factor into the line’s play.

    “They all have starting experience so it bodes well for us,” said Batty.

    In the backfield Verona returns tailback Frank Riggio for his junior campaign. Riggio played in limited snaps last year, but was quite effective in the role. 

    “[Riggio] had a good year in limited carries with his brother.  He did a good job for us last year and he’s had a real good camp, some real good scrimmages, so we’re looking for big things from him,” said Batty. 

    Defensively Verona will have five players who will pull double duty on both sides of the ball. Skrivanic, Stanisci and Algieri will all rotate along the defensive side of the ball while Riggio and McConnachie will play linebacker and safety respectively.

    Rounding out the defense for Verona will be cornerbacks Shane Lawless and Andrew Emanuilidis. In the front seven Christian Dionisio and Jake Milmoe will play inside linebackers while Ryan Huze, Mike Matarazzo, Zach Bucher and Bryan McKeen will play outside. 

    “They all bring something nice to their positions so we’ll see,” said Batty.

    Verona is eagerly awaiting the season opener against Caldwell on September 13. 

    “We’re still working hard every day to maintain our conditioning level, right now it’s just getting ready for Caldwell and what they are going to show us,” said Batty.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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