Blue-Collar Boys: 2020 Brick Football Preview
Brick’s football program has done a heck of a lot of winning over the course of its 63-year history, claiming seven NJSIAA state sectional titles, seven additional state titles awarded by the NJSIAA prior to the playoff system and 26 Shore Conference division titles.
The Dragons are one of the Shore Conference’s banner programs and have won with a variety of different makeups. Some years it’s been an electric offense, others an unrelenting defense. There have been seasons Brick had loads of All-Shore talent and others it got it done with an unheralded yet hungry roster.
This season’s team looks to belong to the latter group. There are no returning All-Shore players and just three players who earned second-team all-division honors in 2019. On the surface that makes it seem as though Brick is in for a tough season, but the Dragons don’t see it that way. The lack of entrenched starters has fueled competition and fostered a no-frills, win-as-a-team approach they hope will pay dividends against a schedule filled with local rivals once more.
A handful of starters are back on both sides ball, led by juniors Darian Newcomb and Tyler Weisneck, both of whom were second-team all-division selections last season. Newcomb has played at the varsity level since his freshman year and is a returning starter along the defensive line. He’ll also see time along the offensive line, likely at left tackle. Weisneck was a starter at wide receiver last year and will switch to wing back this year. Defensively, he’ll reprise his role as a starting defensive back.
Senior Anthony Seaman started as a slot receiver last year and moves into the backfield as a wing back. Senior Evan Travisano returns at wide receiver. The offensive line has three returning starters with junior AJ Ellis at left guard, junior Jason Glass at right guard and senior Declan Decoursey at right tackle. Many of the other spots, especially quarterback where seniors Joaquin Ragland and Logan Bukowski, junior Ryan Panuska and sophomore AJ Grygiel are battling out, are still up in the air.
In addition to Newcomb and Weisneck, the defense returns senior Alex Lawes as a starting cornerback. The defense also receives a boost in the form of senior Austin Lungren, a transfer from DePaul Catholic who was a starter for the Spartans before suffering a season-ending injury early in the year. He’ll start in Brick’s secondary and also push for carries at running back.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter, 3RS=3rd-year returning starter)
QB: Joaquin Ragland, Sr. or Logan Bukowski, Sr. or Ryan Panuska, Jr. or AJ Grygiel, So.
WB: Anthony Seaman, Sr., RS at slot; Tyler Weisneck, Jr., RS at WR; Jason Norman, Jr.
FB: Mikey Schliefer, Jr.; Jake Dedreux, So.; Ryan Duffy, Sr.
TE: Shane Bosko, Sr. and Tyson Lopez, So.; Jeremiah Cervantes, Sr.
WR: Evan Travisano, Sr., RS; Alex Lawes, Sr.; Justin Kurc, Jr.
LT: Vin Caldarise, Jr.; also Darian Newcomb, Jr.
LG: AJ Ellis, Jr., RS
C: Christian Kuhl, Sr.
RG: Jason Glass, Jr., RS and Hao Tang, Sr.
RT: Declan Decoursey, Sr., RS and AJ Lorenzo, Jr.
DE: Tyson Lopez, So.
DT: AJ Lorenzo, Jr.; Christian Kuhl, Sr.
DT: John Kaiser, So.; AJ Ellis, Jr.; Anthony Goncalves, So.
DE: Darian Newcomb, Jr., RS; Shane Bosko, Sr.; Jason Glass, Jr; Declan Decoursey, Sr.; Hao Tang, Sr.
OLB: Justin Kurc, Jr.; Anthony Seaman, Sr.; Ryan Panuska, Jr; Mikey Schleifer, Jr; Ben Tang, Sr.; Colin Wilson, So.
MLB: Jake Dedreux, So.; Riley Bell, Jr.; Ryan Duffy, Sr.
CB: Alex Lawes, Sr., RS
CB: Juaquin Ragland, Sr.; Logan Bukowski, Sr.; AJ Grygiel, So.; Logan Donnelly, So.; Malechi Wright, Jr.; Trevor Thorpe, Sr.
S: Austin Lungren, Sr., RS and Tyler Weisneck, Jr., RS
K: Hao Tang, Sr., RS and Jorge Leyva, Sr.
P: Alex Lawes, Sr., RS
Head coach: Len Zdanowicz, 6th season
Career record: 34-21
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Brian McNamara (Defensive Coordinator/LB); Andrew Cruz (OL/TE); Jared Kight (OL/TE); John Dolan (WR); Bill McDonnell (QB); Al Saner (offensive assistant); Joe Smyth (DL); Chad Dougherty (DB); Kurt Weiboldt (Kickers/special teams); Scott Lloyd (strength and conditioning); Jay Groschel (freshmen); Chris Blackburn (freshmen); Dan Dornacker (freshmen); Wayne Niedermeier (freshmen); Jim Barber (athletic trainer).
Player to Watch: Darian Newcomb, Jr., OL/DL
Newcomb is a three-year varsity player and a returning starter along the defensive line. He’ll also play on the offensive line and can be a game-changing player for the Dragons.
“Two years ago we had a very good team and as a freshman he came in on the first day of practice and won everybody over with his work ethic and love of the game,” said Brick head coach Len Zdanowicz. “He brought it every play and from the minute he was here he acted like he belonged. He just loves football.”
Player Under the Radar: Anthony Seaman, Sr., WB/OLB and Tyler Weisneck, Jr. WB/S
Both Seaman and Weisneck were starting receivers last season who will now transition to the backfield as wing backs. Weisneck is also a returning starter in the secondary while Seaman is in the mix to start at outside linebacker.
Impact Newcomer: Austin Lungren, Sr., DB/RB
Lungren transferred in from DePaul Catholic where he was a starting strong safety last season. His arrival upgrades the secondary and he could also see time in the backfield.
Top position group: Secondary and Defensive Line
Junior Darian Newcomb leads a defensive line that looks to have a deep rotation while the secondary features three returning starters in senior Alex Lawes at cornerback and junior Tyler Weisneck and senior transfer Austin Lungren as the safeties.
Big Shoes to Fill: The quarterback
Brick’s quarterback battle is still undecided but whoever wins the job has the task of replacing Anthony Prato, who was a first-team all-division selection and gave Brick a dual-threat option with his versatility.
X-Factor: Finding an offensive identity
Brick football has an identity, of course, but this question concerns what the calling card will be for this year’s team. With several new players competing for starting positions and a potential throwback for its offense scheme, it will be interesting to see how this Brick team develops given the limited offseason and preseason.
Friday, Oct. 2 – at Southern, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 9 – vs. Toms River North, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 16 – at Toms River East, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 23 – vs. Donovan Catholic, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30 – at Jackson Memorial, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 7 – vs. Brick Memorial, 1 p.m.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.