Air Raiders: 2021 Keyport High School Football Preview
An outflux of senior talent has Keyport shaping up to be a young team during the 2021 season, but that doesn’t mean the Red Raiders are taking a step back. With the addition of some ready-made varsity football players and the return of two standout talents from a year ago, Keyport has the makings of a potentially explosive roster – albeit one with some inexperience and lingering questions.
Senior receiver D.J. Thomson is an established wide receiver and sophomore Nazir Treadwell is an emerging big-play running back – two dynamic offense players around whom Keyport will construct its offense. Both have the kind of playmaking ability that will play regardless of the supporting cast, but third-year coach Jason Glezman is hopeful there will be plenty of support for both.
Even with a quality senior core around Thomson and Treadwell in 2020, Keyport finished 2-4 during the truncated season and will have to navigate a similar schedule with the new faces in several positions.
“Our numbers are the most consistent that they have been in five years,” Glezman said. “We have 43 guys out on the field every single day and the energy is great. We are young and we even have some inexperienced seniors, but I haven’t had two kids as talented as Thomson and Treadwell on a team at the same time.”
Keyport at a Glance
Projected Starters (RS=Returning Starter; 3RS=Third-year Starter)
QB: George Mitchell, Sr.; Ryan Ostervich, Jr.
RB: Nazir Treadwell, So., RS;
FB: Kevin Fitzgerald, Jr.
WR: D.J. Thomson, Sr., 3RS
WR: Zivon Crank, Sr., RS; Derrick Ostervich, Jr.
TE: Christyan Azevedo, Sr., RS; Max Judson, Jr.
LT: Shawan Singh, So.
LG: John Vializ, Sr., RS
C: Ryan Burns, So.
RG: Mason Eldridge, Jr.
RT: Andrew Obando, Sr.
DE: Kevin Fitzgerald, Jr.
DT: John Vializ, Sr.
DT: Andrew Obando, Sr.; Dante Finley, Jr.
DE: Christyan Azevedo, Sr.
OLB: Vinny Cavallo, So.
MLB: Mason Eldridge, Jr.; Matt Doherty, Sr.
OLB: Trevor Ahmed, Sr.
CB: Nazir Treadwell, So., RS
CB: Zivon Crank, Sr., RS
SS: Derrick Ostervich, Jr.
FS: D.J. Thomson, Sr., 3RS
K: George Mitchell, Sr.
P: George Mitchell, Sr.
Head Coach: Jason Glezman, third season
Career Record: 5-10
Record Last Five Years:
Assistant Coaches: Angelo Marocco (Off. Coordinator), Jimmy Maguire (Def. Coordinator/RB/LB), Pete Miller (QB/DB), Tyler Alvarez (OL/DL), Jerry Hourihan (OL/DL), Kelly O’Donnell (Athletic Trainer)
Players to Watch: Nazir Treadwell (So., RB/CB) and D.J. Thomson (Sr., WR/FS)
Thomson was the go-to receiver in the Keyport passing game in 2021, hauling in 25 passes for 389 yards and six touchdowns – tied for the third highest touchdown reception total in the Shore Conference last season.
“He went to a combine in the offseason and ran a legit 4.4 40-yard dash,” Glezman said of Thomson. “With his speed and his get-off, he should be able to run a great three-step route, so that’s what he has been working on and he has really expanded his game. I think it’s going to be hard to stop him with a guy playing over top but if teams want to commit to stopping him, I think we have some guys who can take advantage.”
Treadwell, meanwhile, got his share of run as a freshman last year and now that he is a sophomore, he has improved his strength and could be primed for a breakout season.
“He put on the best 15 pounds I have ever seen,” Glezman said. “He is a sophomore and he is an absolute unit. Last year, he had some freshman tendencies, like trying to bounce everything outside. We are trying to get him going downhill more this year and when he does, he is a problem.”
Players Under the Radar: Derrick Ostervich (Jr., WR/SS) and Cristyan Azevedo (Sr., TE/DE)
Both Ostervich and Azevedo are versatile athletes who are ascending into greater roles this season now that Keyport needs several players to step up their output. Ostervich can move around as a wide receiver while Azevedo is a disruptive defensive end and can add some balance to the offense at tight end.
“(Ostervich) is a little undersized, but he makes up for it with technique,” Glezman said. “Whatever we ask him to do, he can do it well. Defensively, he does a great job creating angles. And then Azevedo, he put on some good weight in his lower body and he has a huge wingspan, which is a big weapon on the defensive line.”
Impact Newcomers: Kevin Fitzgerald (Jr., FB/DE) and Mason Eldridge (Jr., RG/MLB)
In Fitsgerald and Eldridge, Keyport welcomes in two players who transferred from two of the most talent-rich programs in the Shore Conference over the past five seasons. Fitzgerald transferred from Mater Dei Prep and will clear the way as a fullback on offense while lining up at defensive end on the other side of the ball.
Eldridge also transferred to his hometown school, Henry Hudson, after spending two seasons at Red Bank Catholic. Eldridge will take over at middle linebacker and pick up an open spot on the offensive line. Both Fitzgerald and Eldridge played on the jayvee teams at their respective previous schools, which makes them eligible from the start of 2021.
Top Position Group: Secondary
Keyport will load up its defensive backfield with four of its most talented skill players. Thomson brings instinct at free safety to go with his size and overall athleticism, while Ostervich makes up for a little less size with his toughness at strong safety. Treadwell and receiver Zivon Clark will play the cornerback spots, although against deeper teams on the schedule, Treadwell could get a break from time to time.
Big Shoes to Fill: George Mitchell, Sr., QB
Mitchell was one of Keyport’s top soccer players during his first three seasons of high school and not only is he switching to football for his last year; he is jumping right in as the team’s starting quarterback. Mitchell and Thomson also play on Keyport’s basketball team and have a unique connection having played so many games together on the hardwood. What Mitchell lacks in game experience, he makes up for in his knowledge of his best target.
“He is 6-4 and you can’t teach that,” Glezman said. “The best thing about George is he understands D.J. is that good and he knows where to put the ball where D.J. wants to go get it. They have this weird connection that is obvious when they are on the basketball court and they are really starting to put it together on the football field.”
X-Factor: Embracing the Schedule
Keyport began to see larger-sized programs on its schedule last season and that trend continues this season with Group III teams from Pinelands and Monmouth, as well as Group IV Lakewood. The best Red Raiders players can stack up with most of the Shore’s top talent, but playing up in group size is always a test of a Group I team’s depth and the challenge for Glezman will be preparing his second-string players to handle some snaps while also conditioning the many two-way players to last close to 48 minutes.
“I’m looking at it as a challenge that we are going to embrace,” Glezman said. “The Shore Conference is going to make the schedule however they are going to make it and we’re going to go out and accept any challenge. It doesn’t do us any good to complain about it, so we’re going to use it as a chance to try and elevate the program by competing with bigger programs.”
Saturday, Sept. 11 at Keansburg, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18 vs. Point Beach, noon
Friday, Sept. 24 at Pinelands, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 2 vs. Monmouth, noon
Saturday, Oct. 9 vs. Lakewood, noon
Friday, Oct. 16 vs. Keansburg, noon
Friday, Oct. 29 at Point Beach, 7 p.m.