Keys to the Car: 2022 Keyport High School Football Preview
For the last several seasons, nobody personified the Keyport football program more than D.J. Thomson. An all-around athlete who starred both as a wide receiver and defensive back on the football field and as one of the top scorers in the state on the basketball court, Thomson could have been a standout at a non-public school or found his way to another, bigger public school, but chose to make a difference at his hometown, Group I school.
With Thomson gone, there is a new name on the Keyport football marquee: Nazir Treadwell.
“Keyport’s a small town, so we’re a very close group and we get a lot of support from the community,” Treadwell said. “We all grew up together and we know when we trust each other and play for each other, good things usually happen. When you stick together and have success, we have seen how the town really gets behind you, so that’s where we want to be.”
Coach Jason Glezman now sees current Treadwell as the new face of Keyport football, but while the expectation is that Treadwell can live up to the moniker, the Red Raiders will not look the same as a team built around its star running back. After boasting a dynamic passing attack led by Thomson and quarterback George Mitchell during its 6-3 2021 season, Keyport is ready to run the rock with its talented backfield and experienced set of blockers.
“With Georg and D.J. and George, we had a versatile offense that was able to attack on the outside with a young offensive line,” Glezman said. “Now, we have an older offensive line to go with Nazir and some talented backs, so we’re going to try to accentuate that. The guys are all in on it and they are already seeing it start to pay off.”
As much as Treadwell is focused on the team, his coaches are focused on him too. While winning is the ultimate goal, Glezman knows that in order to keep Keyport pushing toward a state championship perch, talents like Treadwell and Thomson before have to have individual success. There are standout athletes that pass through Keyport and the better the experience the Thomson’s and Treadwell’s of the world have, the easier it will be to sell the future Thomson’s and Treadwell’s on what their hometown program can offer.
“He could have gone to RBR (he lives in Union Beach), he could have gone to any of the non-public schools,” Glezman said. “He stayed and other kids followed. He knows his talent and work ethic will take him places and it’s our job as coaches to help him showcase what he can do while he’s here. It will make us a better team and it will show other kids from Keyport that they can come to Keyport, compete for state titles and showcase themselves for the next level, all while playing for your hometown school.”
Keyport at a Glance
Projected Starters (RS=Returning Starter; 3RS=Third-Year Starter)
Offense: Pro Gun
Returning Starters: 5
QB: Ryan Ostervich, Sr.; Roman Blanks, So.
RB: Nazir Treadwell, Jr. 3RS; Daijon Cross, Sr.; Mekai Henderson, Fr.
FB: Mason Eldridge, Sr. RS
WR: Max Judson, Sr.
WR: Mike Ford, Jr.; Derrick Ostervich, Sr.
TE: Kevin Fitzgerald, Sr. RS
LT: Shawn Singh, Jr. RS
LG: Anthony Leon, So.
C: Ryan Burns, Jr. RS
RG: Ben Morgan, Sr.
RT: Nick Gonzalez, Sr.; Liam Killian, So.
Returning Starters: 7
DE: Kevin Fitzgerald, Sr. RS
DT: Liam Killian, So. RS
DT: Christopher Montemarano, Jr.
DE: Ryan Burns, Jr. RS
OLB: Roman Blanks, So.
ILB: Mason Eldridge, Sr. RS
OLB: Logan Blanks, Sr.
CB: Nazir Treadwell, Jr. 3RS
CB: Ryan Ostervich, Sr. RS
SS: Daijon Cross, Sr.
FS: Derrick Ostervich, Sr. RS
K: Max Judson, Sr.
P: Max Judson
Head Coach: Jason Glezman, fourth season
Career Record: 11-13
Record Last Five Years:
Assistant Coaches: Angelo Marocco (Off. Coordinator), Jimmy Maguire (Def. Coordinator/RB/LB), Pete Miller (QB/DB), Kyle Keelen (OL/DL), Jerry Hourihan (Volunteer Assistant), Gheisson Lightbourne (Volunteer Assistant), Donnie Blanks (Volunteer Assistant), Kelly O’Donnell (Athletic Trainer)
Player to Watch: Nazir Treadwell, Jr., RB
Coming off an eight-touchdown sophomore season in which he ran for 570 years, Treadwell is ready to become the focal point of the Keyport offense after serving as a change-of-pace within a pass-heavy Red Raiders attack. The offensive line has enough experience that Treadwell will have the help he needs to have a big individual season, but the junior’s focus is on pushing his team closer to a sectional championship in Group I.
“It’s more responsibility as a junior and more expectations for myself,” Treadwell said. “Being not one of the younger guys like last year, it’s a lot more on my shoulders, but I feel like I’m handling it pretty well so far. I’m trying to make sure we’re allowing ourselves to be coached up, not just my position, but all the positions. I’m trying to be mentally ready for the season.”
“Naz is high character and low maintenance,” Glezman said. “He’s a coach’s dream because you know he is going to do the work that needs to be done. He goes to camps, he trains and he takes pride in the work he does. He has the work ethic to complement the buzz around him.”
As a junior, Treadwell will also start to draw interest from college programs – interest that is still exploratory at this point but exists, nonetheless. In addition to keeping his focus on winning, Treadwell wants to show he is a complete back: fast enough to run away from anybody and physical enough to run through defenders as well.
“As I player, I have always considered myself very competitive,” Treadwell said. “My style is a little more loose and I think one of the things I have been working on is to be a more physical, more direct runner instead or trying to do my own thing. I want to add a more powerhouse game to my repertoire and try to get to that next level.”
Player Under the Radar: Derrick Ostervich, Sr., WR/FS
Last year’s Keyport team featured a dynamic passing attack and Ostervich played a role in it as a slot receiver. Now a senior, he will be an important, steadying force within an inexperienced receiver corps that will be catching passes from a first-year starter at quarterback. In addition, Ostervich is a leader on the defense from his free safety spot and with Keyport likely to operate as a more run-heavy offense, his know-how on defense will be key in limiting big plays by the opposition – something Keyport could better recover from with its high-powered aerial attack of a year ago.
“D.O.’s game has really grown,” Glezman said. “He is not a big guy, but you watch him out on the field and he is setting the edge, using his eyes, using his feet and making plays.”
Top Position Group: The Running Game
The Keyport offense will have a different look this season, but the Red Raiders could be just as difficult for opposing defenses to deal with, albeit in a different way. Treadwell is an established, big-play running back who will key the ground game, but the Red Raiders will have some additional weapons in St. John Vianney transfer Daijon Cross and promising freshman Mekai Henderson.
“We can put (Cross) on the field and we don’t really miss a beat,” Glezman said. “We’re very excited to have those two guys in the backfield.”
The group of running backs will be operating behind some proven players, although some will be in new positions. Kevin Fitzgerald moves from fullback to tight end, Mason Eldridge slides from guard to fullback and returnees Ryan Burns and Shawn Singh will lead the offensive line from the center and left tackle spots, respectively. Seniors Nick Gonzalez and Mater Dei transfer Ben Morgan take over on the right side of the line and sophomore Anthony Leon rounds out the group up front on offense.
Big Shoes to Fill: Max Judson, Sr., WR
For the next six months, Judson is likely to hear the name D.J. Thomson quite a bit, because that is the man who he will have to help replace in not one, but two sports at Keyport. Thomson was an All-Shore performer in both football and basketball and Judson was a role player on the basketball team that reached the Central Jersey Group I championship game. Now, Judson will occupy one of the wide receiver spots vacated by Thomson and with a 6-foot-4 frame and some athleticism, Judson is likely to become a favorite target of likely starting quarterback Ryan Ostervich.
X-Factor: Quarterback Play
Speaking of Ryan Ostervich, the senior is the front-runner to assume the quarterback duties for Keyport in 2022, taking over for George Mitchell. While it might seem like a tall task, it is worth remembering Mitchell did not have varsity experience before last season and picked up the job quickly, so there is definitely optimism that Keyport will be solid under center before long. With a good collection of players in the running game, the job will be that of a game-manager more than a gun-slinger, but Ostervich is capable of making some plays as well.
Rivalry Game: Oct. 15 vs. Keansburg
After dropping two out of three games from their rivals from 2017 to 2019, the Red Raiders have bounced back with wins over the Titans in each of the last two seasons. Last season’s victory was especially satisfying because it was the best both teams have been in the same year for quite some time, with each finishing 2021 with a winning record. This year’s game will feature a lot of new faces on both sides, including a new head coach at Keansburg.
Friday, Sept. 9 at Asbury Park, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 17 vs. Point Beach, Noon
Friday, Sept. 23 at Shore, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1 vs. Gateway, Noon
Saturday, Oct. 8 vs. Lakewood, Noon
Saturday, Oct. 15 vs. Keansburg, Noon
Saturday, Oct. 22 at New Egypt, Noon