2015 Wall Football Preview: Taking the Next Step
A talented group of juniors that got its first taste of significant varsity action last season as sophomores is now ready to combine with a strong group of seniors to jumpstart Wall’s program under second-year coach Dan Curcione.
“We had a great off season,’’ Curcione said. “The kids worked extremely hard and we are hoping to use the old football adage ‘bigger, stronger and faster.’’’
The Crimson Knights are hoping to build on the momentum from season-ending wins over Colts Neck and Thanksgiving rival Manasquan to regain their status as a state playoff and division title contender despite another tough schedule. They also hinted at their potential last season when they shocked Class A South champion Brick in overtime in the biggest regular-season upset in the Shore Conference in years.
Curcione has also added Chip LaBarca Jr. to his staff as the offensive coordinator after LaBarca directed one of the Shore’s most explosive offenses at Brick the past two years. Curcione served as the defensive coordinator under LaBarca when the two were at Toms River North previously. Wall will continue to run a multiple offense with some spread sets, four-wide sets and two-back sets with or without a tight end, as well as a few new wrinkles that LaBarca will install.
The offense will be led by returning All-Division quarterback Matt Cluley. The senior rushed for 621 yards and 9 touchdowns and also threw for 1,080 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first season as the starter last year, and he will have almost his entire wide receiver corps to throw to again.
Junior RJ Janeczek is back after catching 20 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore last year and looks to be a home run threat who commands double teams this year. Senior Bobby Fletcher and junior Shane Richey are two other play-making targets. Sophomore Chevesse Covin could also see some snaps at receiver.
“Richey knows all of the wide receiver positions in addition to being able to play some ‘A’ back if needed,’’ Curcione said. “We will also move him around in the secondary”
The tight end position is being contested between senior Jack Malone and junior Gene Scott, a pair of 6-foot-2 targets who also should help the running game.
Junior Sean Larkin returns at tailback after missing time last year with a broken collarbone. He will be spelled by senior Billy Schneider and sophomore Brady McNally. The fullback position will feature senior Pat Eknoian, and Schneider will also take some snaps there.
Junior Darryl Valme returns to lead the offensive line and he will play alongside his twin brother, Darryin, at right tackle with junior Colton Murdza pushing both of them for some playing time. The center is senior Keegan Nesbitt. Mike Andrejco will play left guard and returning at left tackle will be senior Mike Yard. The offensive line averages approximately 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds across, which they are hoping to be major factor in their rushing attack.
Defensively Wall will employ the 3-4 scheme that Curcione implemented three years ago as defensive coordinator, but with some new wrinkles.
“We are teaching 3-4 fundamentals, but we will move around and give teams a lot of different looks,’’ Curcione said. “We will sometimes go with an eight-man box and then other times use 5-6 defensive backs depending on the down, distance and tendencies.”
The defensive end spots will feature Andrejco, Darryin Valme and Yard. Senior De’Shawn Sanders, Darryl Valmay and junior Matt Biegert will be all rotate at defensive tackle.
There will be some new faces at outside linebacker with juniors Matt McKenzie, Chad McClelland, Jack Byrne and Sean Ferguson fighting senior Jake Malone for the two spots. Inside linebacker also has a competition going on between sophomore Gene Scott, Tim McKernan and junior Kyle Dallicardillo battling junior Andrew Chapman and Schneider.
Most of the wide receivers will also comprise the secondary, with Janeczek, Richey and junior Mike Capra working in at cornerback, and Richey, Larkin and senior Dallas Colatrella at strong safety. Cluley and senior James Marabeti will rotate at free safety. Senior Nick Maciejewski is a returning starter at placekicker, and Cluley will handle the punting.
Head coach: Dan Curcione, second season
Career record: 3-7.
Assistant coaches: Chip LaBarca Jr., Mike Cerminaro, Alex Iachetta, Bob Grace, Fred Sprengel, Time Heaney, Joe Trezza, Bill Carasia, James Cadigan, Joe LaFerlita, Jim Rochford, Bill Pietsch, Cody Smith; Mike Eberhardt (athletic trainer).
Big shoes to fill: Darryl Valme, Jr., OL/DL.
Valme will look to fill the production void left by the graduation of top two-way lineman Jim Onulak.
X-Factor: Darryin Valme, Jr., OL/DL.
The offensive guard/defensive tackle, who is Darryl’s twin brother, had a strong offseason, and his improvement looks to be crucial this season.
Impact newcomer: Sean Larkin, Jr., RB.
Larkin isn’t technically a newcomer after starting at the end of last season, but this will be his first year as the featured tailback, where he will be counted on to lead the rushing attack.
Glue Guy: R.J. Janeczek, Jr., WR/DB.
The explosive Janeczek hinted at his potential last season and should be more of a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball this season. He will be counted on to make plays all over the field.
Pivotal game: Sept. 11 at home vs. Red Bank
The Bucs knocked off the Crimson Knights last season, which snowballed into an 0-4 start. Wall will look to show that it has improved and generate some momentum for a tough Class B North schedule by avenging that loss.