Article:    
Edison High School 2017 football preview
9/13/2017 11:04 PM

With 24 players having graduated and only three starters returning, Edison High School football coach Matt Fulham was counting on utilizing every second of the preseason for teaching.

The veteran mentor has lost significant instructional time, however, as injuries have decimated the Eagles over the first two weeks of camp.

A total of 17 players, all of whom needed repetitions, have been sidelined for one reason or another and most of that group missed a recent intrasquad scrimmage.

Two starters will be out of commission for significant time, one with a dislocated knee and the other with a dislocated elbow.

An ambulance, which was needed at the high school two days in a row, has seen more time on the field than some players and certified athletics trainer Tim Root has been as busy as any member of the coaching staff.

“The injuries have slowed us down big-time,” Fulham said. “With so many guys being injured, now it’s even younger guys thrown into the mix.”

Not one to make excuses – a total of eight former Edison players, according to MyCentralJersey.com’s calculations, are currently playing at other high schools after transferring in recent years – Fulham has asked his team to embrace one simple mantra.

“Next guy up,” said Fulham, whose graduating class featured nine players who are continuing their careers in college. “You need to be prepared as if you are the starter because you never know if it’s going to be your time. We have a lot of guys fighting for starting positions because of injuries. Only two (injuries) are serious. (Others) take a few days here and there. They’re still missing a few days of practice, and every day is important.”

Edison graduated the Greater Middlesex Conference’s second-leading passer (Justin Turner 1,806 yards), the league’s second-leading receiver (Keanu Reed 776 yards), the Red Division’s fifth-leading rusher (James Stewart 831 yards) and the division’s ninth-leading receiver (Nick Yanik 376 yards).

The Eagles also graduated Lance Rice, one of the conference’s best defensive players, who amassed 112 tackles including 20 for a loss and seven sacks.

“We lost 24 seniors,” said Fulham, whose top three running backs, top three linemen, three starting linebackers and entire secondary departed. “If they weren’t starters they all pretty much played as backups or special teams. We have a lot of guys coming from jayvee and don’t have a lot of varsity football experience. But I definitely feel they are talented and working hard. How fast we can gain game experience will be the key.”

Junior Dean Escobar, who quarterbacked a talented freshman team to an 8-1 record two years ago, has moved under center.

A tough runner with a quality arm, Escobar, like any rookie signal caller, must adjust to the speed of the game at the varsity level while making good decisions and protecting the football.

Edison’s senior-laden backfield features upperclassmen Donavan Benoit, Tyler Strickland, Dimitrius Grant and junior Armani Bell.

A transfer from Fork Union Military Academy, a prep and postgraduate school in Virginia, Benoit will be difficult to bring down at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds. Expect him to be the workhorse back and make an immediate impact.

Strickland, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, had a few carries last season, but, like Grant, primarily played jayvee. Both have performed well in the preseason. Bell is among the fastest and shiftiest of the group.

Ahmed Aly, a team captain who Fulham was counting on to be Edison’s leading receiver, is out at least until mid-September with a dislocated elbow. More than six sophomores and juniors are competing for time at wideout.

The offensive line, which has been Edison’s strength in the preseason, has size and some experience.

Center Anthony Burke (307 pounds), left guard Keegan McGuire (205 pounds), left tackle Xavier Long (270 pounds), right guard Nick Ocasio (200 pounds) and right tackle Wyatt Buchany (284 pounds) could emerge as the starting five. Sharon Suresh (287 pounds), Calvin Feijoo (240 pounds) and Carlos Feijoo (205 pounds) are all pressing for playing time. Long and Burke are leaders in the trenches.

Long and Branden Barnes will be the interior linemen in a 4-3 defense that features McGuire and Ocasio at the ends.

Last year was Barnes’ first playing football. He moves well (4.9-second speed in the 40-yard dash) for his size (6-foot-2 and 265 pounds). He quickly learned the defensive tackle position last season to work his way into a starting job.

Benoit will be featured at middle linebacker. Xavier Tisdale, Frank Vega, Humber Gorospe and Bell will play outside linebacker. Andrew Belem, who returned this week from reconstructive knee surgery, can play linebacker and tight end.

Grant, Strickland, Orion Gilliam, Dejan Koroma, Liam Dougherty, Darius Floyd, Josiah Velez, Emanuel Davila, Brandon Anderberg and Zakee Mix will comprise Edison’s defensive backfield.

Strickland is penciled in at strong safety once he gets healthy. Gilliam, who is also currently injured, will play one of the corners with Grant. Karoma provides depth at corner. Dougherty is a free safety.

The Eagles have good numbers in the program with 58 players in grades 10 through 12 and 40 more freshmen.

Keeping them off the injured list remains a key.

ABOUT THE EAGLES

Coach: Matt Fulham, 13th season (44-71-1)

Assistants: James Cooper (defensive coordinator, running backs, linebackers); Tyler Jackow (offensive line, defensive line); Matt Revel (wide receivers, defensive back); Ryan Critti (offensive line, defensive line); Eric Breining (wide receivers, defensive backs); Reggie Beard (clinician); Matt McGuigan (freshman); Joe Pitarresi (freshman); Dan Long (freshman); Chris Adams (freshman).

Stadium: Matthew J. Drwal Stadium (turf)

Colors: Red and gold

Classification: North 2 Group V

Offensive formation: Spread

Defensive formation: 4-3

2017 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8 at Monroe, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Sayreville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 Old Bridge, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 South Brunswick, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 New Brunswick, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 at East Brunswick, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 at Freehold Boro, 1 p.m.
Nov. 3 Piscataway, 7 p.m.
Nov. 23 at J.P. Stevens, 10:30 a.m.

2016 RESULTS

Monroe 40-14 (W)
Sayreville 18-13 (L)
Old Bridge 42-42 (T)
South Brunswick 42-7 (L)
New Brunswick 39-14 (L)
East Brunswick 42-21 (W)
Freehold Boro 31-10 (L)
Piscataway 52-13 (L)
Marlboro 31-22 (W)
J.P. Stevens 35-0 (W)
 


News Comments & Questions
No comments yet, be the first one?